New England captain Frank Lampard has dismissed the theory that internationals are of secondary relevance to club football and claimed: "They will always be the proudest games of your career."
Lampard will lead England out for the first time in tonight's friendly with Denmark, in the absence of Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard. With a crowded Premier League and Champions League calendar, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is among those who have decried the international game, once describing it as "boring".
When asked about Wenger's comment, Lampard said: "There has been a time maybe when international football maybe has struggled to keep up. But, in the long term, international football will always be there. As an individual, they'll always be the proudest games of your career."
He added: "With England, we've not had many games with a real edge because we've never done well enough in the big competitions.
"Maybe in small cycles, international football hasn't set us alight as much as we'd want recently. But it'll always be significant. We've got 2,500 fans coming over in a midweek game, so that shows you the interest in it."
Lampard wants to continue playing for England as long as he can make a worthwhile contribution.
But he has welcomed the inclusion of 19-year-old Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere who is set to start an England match for the first time tonight.
Lampard said: "You have to encourage change and embrace it. I'm not one of those players who wants to keep the youngsters out for myself.
"You want for the good of the team and the squad. Seeing Wilshere, and McEachran at Chelsea, coming through is great because I was that player once although I wasn't as young as them.
"You need that with the younger lads coming through, otherwise you become stale. You need it to drive you on."
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