Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has sent a message out to fans, urging them to not put any pressure on Rickie Lambert.
Lambert joined Anfield last month for a fee of £4 million, rejoining the club he was released from when he was aged 15.
However, the England international has struggled so far on Merseyside, having not yet netted in pre-season. Nonetheless, Rodgers is still a firm believer that the Kirkby native will get goals and has pleaded with fans not to get impatient with the 32-year-old.
'Valuable member of our squad'
Quoted in the Daily Star, Rodgers said: "Don’t worry about Rickie or put pressure on him to get goals.
“Rickie has been brought in here to be a very valuable member of our squad. He has probably been handed more game time in pre-season than we wanted because we are still looking for one or two other things.
“But I am so happy I have got him here. He is a good guy. He works hard and his role will become more prominent throughout the season as we play.
“All through his career he has got goals at whatever level he plays at. He came on for England and got goals. At Southampton in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons he has got goals.
“So there is no need for him to be under any pressure. He needs to come in at 32 years of age, contribute to the history of this club.
“He is a big supporter of the club but he is past that now. He is here to do a job and I trust him to do that job. He will do a great job for us.”
Rodgers' comments suggest that Lambert will be used as somewhat of an impact player at Anfield, which many thought that is what his role would be when he joined from Southampton.
Last season, although Liverpool ripped through defences scoring 101 goals in the Premier League, there were times when they also struggled to break down back four's. The 2-0 loss to Chelsea is a perfect example of this, when they could not get past Jose Mourinho's tactics despite throwing the kitchen sink at John Terry & co.
Lambert offers the Reds a 'Plan B.' He is a serious aerial threat, as he times his jumps to perfection for headers and bringing it down on his chest from long balls.
Further, the former Stockport County striker is not just a target man. He can also play football on the ground and is very intelligent in terms of the balls he plays. Southampton played a superb style of passing last season and Lambert fit into the side very much so.
Nonetheless, with Lambert not finding the net in pre-season, some Liverpool fans are worried he is not the answer. The 32-year-old has had a journeyman career, playing for lower league sides such as Stockport and Macclesfield Town. With the Merseyside club in the hunt for the Premier League title, some query if he is good enough to perform at the very best level.
Is he good enough?
For me, he is good enough. Lambert has scored everywhere he goes, whether it is in League 2, the Premier League or for England. What seems to be the problem is that he is going through the motions at Liverpool. I still think that he is starstruck about his dream move back to Anfield and that he is trying too hard both on and off the picth.
The forward needs to realise that all he needs to do is repeat exactly what he has done everywhere else in his career - just play football.
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