Midfielder Frank Lampard believes Rio Ferdinand still has an England future despite the Manchester United defender pulling out of Roy Hodgson's squad this week.
Hodgson selected Ferdinand for the first time for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, only for the 34-year-old to withdraw, citing the disruption it would cause to his fitness programme.
Ferdinand insisted he still wanted to be considered for England and Lampard believes it would be hard to overlook his former West Ham team-mate on current form.
"He's a top-drawer player Rio, and he's certainly not finished," he told a press conference televised on Sky Sports News.
"Looking at his performances against (Real) Madrid, especially away, he was outstanding.
"Regular performances week-in and week-out, he's a top performer, has been and still is.
"I don't know the ins and outs of his future but the way he's playing at the minute he one of the top defenders in the Premier League for sure."
Lampard admitted Ferdinand's withdrawal had been a blow.
"(I was) sorry for him and the team, he's been in fantastic form," he said.
"We're losing a player of quality. As I said, now it's very important that the squad gets the results that it needs so there are no personal issues - it's about all of the team."
England sit second in Group H but will be short on experience at the back after Gary Cahill was ruled out of Friday's trip to San Marino.
The Chelsea defender could still play a part against group leaders Montenegro four days later but Lampard dismissed thoughts of a defensive crisis.
"It happens, these are the moments when you need a strong squad," he said.
"It sometimes happens when you lose two, three or four players from the same position.
"That would probably affect any squad in the world and we're probably fortunate that we've got some very good young players. It will be time for those players to stand up.
"I'm sure they can do it because they do it regularly."
Lampard also said he understood the reasons for Ferdinand's withdrawal, acknowledging that older players need to take extra care as they look to prolong their careers.
The 34-year-old: "Being one of the older lads, once you pass 30 years of age you have to manage yourself differently, maintain yourself, train more, train less, rest periods...particularly lads who have picked up injuries.
"I know Rio picked up a few injuries earlier in his career and he's been very disciplined in keeping on top of himself to make sure he gets the most out of his career, so a lot of respect for that, and everyone is different."
The upcoming qualifying double-header offers Lampard the chance to edge closer to the 100-game milestone with England.
The Chelsea stalwart currently has 94 caps and he is hoping to get the opportunity to match team-mates Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole, who both recently brought up a century of appearances for the Three Lions.
Lampard said: "I'm here and ready to be involved, hopefully in both games. It's up to the manager. I'll keep going and kicking on and see if I can pick up more caps.
"I watched Steven do it, watched Ashley do it, it should be a very proud moment. I'm also very proud of what I've already done.
"I try to take it game by game and if I get there I'll be very proud."