I am stronger - Lampard

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Frank Lampard feels he is a stronger character for having to face the Wembley boo-boys.

The unfortunate mantle that has previously belonged to John Barnes and Gary Neville now seems to have a new owner in Ashley Cole, with Stewart Downing not far behind judging by the mutterings of disquiet that rang round a near capacity stadium on Saturday when the Middlesbrough man was introduced.

Despite Fabio Capello urging England supporters to stay solidly behind his team, it seems they just cannot get by without having someone to loathe. And Lampard said: "The first time you get a bit of stick it does affect you. You are only human."

He added: "Gradually it becomes a lot easier to deal with. You start thinking it doesn't matter too much and concentrate on doing your job.

"It is not nice for anyone to take stick from their own fans, everyone sees that with Ashley at the moment.

"There were a few rumblings at the weekend and it doesn't help anyone.

"But it has actually made me a bit stronger for coming through it."

The turning point for Lampard has come with the rise in England's fortunes under Capello.

As they overcame Croatia and Belarus in a four-match winning sequence at the start of Group Six qualifying for next year's World Cup, so came the recognition Lampard must be doing something right.

"It has been very rewarding," he said. "There are ups and downs in your career. You just have to try and overcome it. Now I just need to keep playing well. That's the only way people will respond in the right way."

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Stewart Downing
Ashley Cole
Premier League
Gary Neville

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