England veteran Frank Lampard believes that his experience and knowledge of performing at the highest level can make him a mentor to Three Lions wonderkid Ross Barkley, while urging Roy Hodgson to take the shackles off and play the Everton starlet in an advanced attacking role.
Barkley came on in Manuas last night to make his World Cup debut at the age 20, but couldn't stop England slipping to a disappointing 2-1 defeat despite showing flashes of quality throughout a promising cameo.
Lampard had a watching brief throughout and has revealed he's worked closely with the Everton star and feels he's having a positive influence, while waxing about a talent he fees has a fearless streak to match his rare mix of technical skills and physical presence.
The 35-year-old told the Daily Star: “I think I’ve got a role to play with someone like Ross.
“I am an experienced player with some great young lads and they all want to do the right thing.
“We can all make mistakes – whether you are 20 or 35 – so you try to help them.
“You might say, ‘Don’t do that on the half-way line’, but at times you have to let them go with their tricks when they are wriggling free at the opposition back-four.
“You want to use your experience to help them and give them a little nudge now and again."
Hodgson definitely took observers by surprise when he picked Barkley in a fresh 23-man squad also featuring Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and that tend continued with his tactics against the Italians on Saturday evening.
Barkley didn't start but Sterling did in a shock central role, with Wayne Rooney moved out to the left and Danny Welbeck switched to the right flank.
His impact on the clash as a substitute though will have England fans clamouring for the Merseyside marvel to be in Hodgson's starting XI for Thursday's massive clash with Uruguay, a gave neither side can afford to lose and still stay alive in the tournament.
Hodgson has a nice blend of youth and experience in his squad, that's not in question, but it's getting the best out of both in big matches that continues to be a huge problem.
Barkley could hold the key, with Lampard urging his boss to give young talent the creative freedom to do the business in Sao Paulo when it matters most.