Why England forward Rickie Lambert deserves more respect

Southampton’s Rickie Lambert has a superb chance to show how productive he can be this evening for England against Moldova.

There has been a lot of disrespect aimed at the Southampton striker since it was confirmed that Daniel Sturridge wouldn’t be available for England’s World Cup qualifying match with a thigh problem.

Roy Hodgson announced that Lambert would start in attack this evening, which triggered several reports that there is worrying strength in depth when it comes to England’s national side.

However, Lambert deserves the chance to lead the attack for his country and he has a chance to silence that criticism, proving he’s a far better striker than plenty of media sources are giving him credit for.

Lambert may not be the most subtle striker in the history of English football but he’s popular for the very reason that he embodies numerous ideologies which are positive about English football.

He’s a well built, strong type of centre forward, ready to put himself on the line if it means he can get part of his body on the ball to score a goal.

He’s obviously a natural asset when it comes to set pieces but that shouldn’t suggest that’s the only string to his bow because he’s a far better all round player than a forward who just gets on the end of crosses.

He always plays with great passion and drive, not afraid to launch into a verbal attack on one of his teammates for making a mistake or for generally not producing the performance levels expected.

He’s developed into a very sophisticated striker at the Saints, which works well with those basic elements of his game, which has ultimately led to him getting this chance with England.

Mauricio Pochettino and Nigel Adkins before him, liked Southampton to play a very pure brand of football so it’s not as though Lambert is a target man who defenders just hoof the ball forward to in the hope that he’ll hold it up.

He’s used to traditional, well drilled build up play, dropping off from the defence to get involved with the midfield but also pressing the shoulder of a defence, looking for that ball in behind.

It’s extremely harsh to use him as an excuse of poor depth in English football because he’s only just started his international career, making a scoring debut in the recent friendly against Scotland, and he could retire leaving many with the question of why he didn’t play for England far earlier.

Lambert is not a negative. He’s proof to any player with aspirations of playing for England that if you do the basics well and earn respect throughout the game, you can get a chance to play for your country.

What are you expecting from Lambert this evening?

image: © geetarchurchy

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