London: Frank Lampard's flurry of goals for club and country since returning from injury in December have given the midfielder fresh hope of extending his Chelsea contract and prolonging his England career.
"The World Cup is certainly a target for me and I will try to keep playing at a good enough level to get there," Lampard was quoted as saying in British media on Friday. "It's a target. I won't retire from England before that, put it that way," added Lampard, who scored the winner in the 2-1 friendly international victory over Brazil on Wednesday.
"If I can continue playing for Chelsea and contributing here with England, whether it's starting or not, and as a valuable squad member, and do my bit when I play, then the World Cup is getting a bit nearer." According to Lampard's agent, the 34-year-old player was told by the European champions late last year that under no circumstances would he be offered a contract extension at the end of the season.
Lampard, who joined in 2001 and whose contract runs out in June, is the London club's second highest goal-scorer with 197 strikes and is closing on Bobby Tambling's record of 202. The midfielder, who has scored nine times for club and country in his last 14 games, also has 27 international goals in his 94 England caps.
Despite his form, his future with Chelsea remains unclear and he has been linked to Major League Soccer (MLS), though England manager Roy Hodgson said after the Brazil game that the midfielder should stay in Europe for a chance at a World Cup spot.
"Maybe the World Cup is within reach but I'm not getting carried away. I know how football is," said Lampard. "It can change from squad to squad and when you get to the age of 34, 35 in the summer, people do look upon things differently and fair enough. "I'm very understanding of where I am at in my career."
Lampard said that, with England facing some tough qualifiers for the World Cup in Brazil next year, he hoped to keep fit and keep impressing Hodgson. "I believe he is the type of manager that if you are playing well enough - whatever your age, wherever you are - he will pick you and I hope that's the case. "I've got a sniff of the World Cup. It's only a sniff because it's a year away and England aren't even there so I shouldn't get carried away.
"But I'll keep performing to my best and whatever decisions I take, I'll take with a view across the board to make myself happy, to try and play the best football I can." Lampard's Chelsea, third in the Premier League, play strugglers Wigan Athletic on Saturday while England face minnows San Marino and then Group H pacesetters Montenegro in qualifiers on March 22 and 26.