Forget Sterling or Balotelli. This man must lead Liverpool line against Real

It is time for Liverpool to give Rickie Lambert a prolonged run in the team.

As Mario Balotelli continues to stutter since his summer move to Liverpool, talk has been of dropping the Italian, with former Red Jamie Carragher suggesting Raheem Sterling should be pushed further forward against Real Madrid.

But there is an alternative option that would appear to make more sense on the surface. In short, keep Sterling where is does his best work and play Rickie Lambert up front.

The former Southampton player has struggled himself this season, and is yet to score in eight appearances.

But suggesting the England international is underperforming to the same extent as Balotelli would be grossly unfair. After all, Lambert has played just 212 minutes for Liverpool while the former AC Milan forward has racked up 651 minutes and counting.

In that time, Balotelli has netted just one goal – against Champions League minnows Ludogorets Razgrad – and in the match with Queens Park Rangers at the weekend, the 24-year-old put in an abject performance.

It is safe to say Lambert – as a lifelong Liverpool supporter who clearly could not believe his luck when he moved to Anfield in the summer – would relish the chance to lead the line against Real. And whatever he does, it would be considerably more than Balotelli managed against QPR.

Lambert’s feelings for the club mean putting faith in him for the Reds’ biggest game of the season could prove a masterstroke. He deserves a chance because Balotelli has currently exhausted his, and switching Sterling would potentially lessen Liverpool’s attacking options rather than increase them.

It is just a thought, but it is one Brendan Rodgers would be wise to consider. After all, Lambert is a goal-scorer, as his 115 in 229 Southampton appearances testify.

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