Southampton striker refreshed ahead of new season

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Southampton returned for pre-season on Monday, kicking off with a two-day festival of fitness tests as the new Premier League campaign draws ever nearer.

And, as ever, a lot of expectation will be heaped upon the shoulders of leading man Rickie Lambert.

The Liverpudlian forward is now a fan icon at St. Mary's, having scored 103 goals in 193 appearances since his £1m switch from Bristol Rovers in 2009.

After joining the club in League One, Lambert was a major driving force of the resurgence under the leadership of executive chairman Nicola Cortese, being the club's top scorer in every season he has represented them in.

Now, as he prepares for yet another pre-season at the age of 31, Lambert admits he is excited as ever to get going.

Speaking to the club's official website, Lambert said: "I obviously enjoyed the summer and I had a good break, but now I'm itching to get back playing football.

"I'm looking forward to playing some football because I haven't really touched a ball in six weeks, which is strange for a footballer."

However, Lambert also stated a belief that there is no guarantee that the club may benefit from what, on paper, is an easier start to the season this time out.

He added: "If you turn up five per cent away from your best and you'll get beaten by any team – and battered sometimes as well. It's a hard, hard league."

The south-coast club begin the pre-season schedule with a trip to Catalunya for a pre-season training camp. Mauricio Pochettino's men will then head to Austria to face FC Schalke 04 and Turkish SuperLiga side Besiktas, before rounding off their preparations against Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad.


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