RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Former England coach Glenn Hoddle has added his voice to one of the longest-running debates about the national team, saying veteran Frank Lampard should partner captain Steven Gerrard against Italy on Saturday.
Hoddle called on coach Roy Hodgson not to listen to calls to give younger players a chance and said he should instead stick with Lampard to bolster midfield discipline against the Italians in England's opening Group D match at the World Cup.
"Everyone assumes Jordan Henderson will line up with Gerrard in a midfield partnership that has worked well for Liverpool," Hoddle said in a column for British bookmaker William Hill to be published on Saturday.
"But I really think England need stability, experience and know-how for the start - then unleash some of the youngsters to frighten Italy in the final stages when some of their older players will be wilting," he said.
Lampard, 35, and Gerrard, 34, have been the two dominant English central midfield players of the past decade, racking up goals at Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.
They have more than 200 international caps between them. But their partnership for England has proven frustrating for fans, with Lampard often unable to enjoy the same kind of attacking freedom he has had at club level as Gerrard ventures forward.
Hodgson has younger options to put alongside Gerrard, such as his Liverpool team mate Henderson and Arsenal's Jack Wilshire.
But Hoddle, who managed England at the 1998 World Cup and is also a former Chelsea manager, said he favoured giving Lampard the kind of defensive midfield role he assumed last season for his club in order to protect the national team's back four against an Italy side marshalled by playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
That would also mean Lampard and Gerrard would not be treading on each other's toes in attacking midfield positions.
"Roy needs to be prudent in his first selection and cannot afford to have a rush of blood against Italy," he said.
Hoddle said he would pick Manchester United's Danny Welbeck to start as a striker on Saturday and bring on Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling later in the game. He also said Adam Lallana of Southampton also deserved a place in the starting 11.
(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Ken Ferris)