Rickie Lambert’s season just seems to be getting better and better with each game that passes.
After working his way up through the lower divisions, he’s taken his chance and has been one of the shinning lights in a successful season for Southampton.
His display against Chelsea was superb, he held the ball up well, brought his midfielders into play and more importantly, scored the match-winning goal with a 30-yard free-kick.
That strike was his 14th of this season, more than any other English player in the Premier League, which sparked a large amount of Southampton fans into song. "Lambert for England!", chanted the St. Mary's faithful. The question is, are such comments justified? And will Lambert's form earn him a call-up from Roy Hodgson, or will he be ignored like many before him in previous seasons?
The first reason why he should be called up is because I want the England team to be picked on form and not names. He is playing week in week out and having a large impact, as he is involved in some way in over four out of every 10 goals that Southampton score, showing his form is of the highest standard.
In addition to this, as shown with the goal against Chelsea, Lambert's ability from set-piece situations, free-kicks and penalties is second to none. He has complete confidence in his ability to score and this could be important in major competitions, especially considering England’s reputation in penalty shoot-outs.
He is lacking in the pace department, but he makes up for this in strength and the ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play. For a big, imposing figure, Lambert has technique and calmness when in possession and, combined with the ability to score both inside and outside of the box, Lambert has enough about him to hold his own at international level.
He would also offer England something a little different - if in a tight game he can come off the bench, he would offer England a plan B. Often with England if plan A doesn’t work there are no alternatives but Lambert could be a way around this.
However at 31, inevitably questions arise over whether or not he could compete at international level, and whether he's worth calling up as Lambert would represent a short-term solution.
Grant Holt was phenomenal last season but was ignored on the international stage. This season he has failed to recapture the form from the previous year which suggest players like Lambert may be fantastic in their first season, but it is continuing this form into the second season which would potentially give him a chance of an international call-up. Is Rickie Lambert going to be a one season wonder? Only time will tell.
There is also the element that his form this year is exceptional, as defenders and managers haven’t managed to figure out how to deal with him. He is new to the Premier League this season and therefore has the element of surprise. This is often seen by players who join England's top tier and are electric in their first season but then struggle in their second. This has been seen in some respects with players such as Holt and Papiss Cisse. If Lambert is to continue to perform to this level he will need to learn how to deal with the extra attention which will surely be given to him next season should Southampton preserve their top flight status.
Lambert's age is going to become a factor too as England are seemingly in a transitional stage, moving from the 'old guard' and trying to bring through some youth, as seen with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kyle Walker.
Personally, I feel Lambert should be given his opportunity, even if only in a friendly to see how he performs. However, knowing the England management system he will seemingly be ignored just like Holt before him, which is a shame for a player who deserves a chance after performing so admirably. After all, the England squad should be selected based on form, not reputations.
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