Rickie Lambert disappointed with Middlesbrough showing

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Liverpool forward Rickie Lambert has admitted that he is yet to find full fitness at Anfield and was disappointed with his performance in midweek.

Lambert moved from Southampton to Merseyside this summer for a fee of£4 million, 17 years after he was released from the club as a schoolboy.

However, the 32-year-old hasn't yet had the same impact on Merseyside as he did on the south coast.

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Middlesbrough disappointment

Lambert made his first start in a red shirt during Tuesday's Capital One Cup tie against Middlesbrough and was given the captain's armband. Unfortunately, the Kirkby native failed to put in a performance to please the fans or manager Brendan Rodgers.

The former Stockport County striker knows he must improve his fitness now that he is not playing week in, week out, in order to make an impression when he does get the call start.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he said: "It was surprise. The manager pulled me in and said ‘you’re going to be skipper’ so it was a great honour to lead the team. Was it dream stuff for a local lad? It was.

“But forgetting about that, it was a strange game. I’ve never seen a penalty shoot-out go on for so long.

“I’ve been close to it, but that surpassed it. We dug in. We gave away a bad set-piece goal again, which we are not happy with, but we dug in and we had to win on pens in the end.

“I kind of which I’d been out there for the pens, yes! But the lads were superb with the pens and so were Middlesbrough. Full credit, the quality of pens was superb.

“But I wasn’t happy with my own performance, so that overshadowed the honour of being captain a little bit," he added.

Improvement vital

Lambert's performance during the mid-week clash was severely under-par. The forward looked well off the pace, with the ball not sticking to his feet when he had it played in to him.

His vision, which is usually very intelligent, also lacked clarity and he gave the ball away far too easily at times.

Liverpool are currently without main striker Daniel Sturridge, who is on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Goals are a must for the five time European Cup winners, especially if they are conceding so many at the back and do not improve in that respect. Lambert is yet to score for his new club, despite making several appearances off the bench. He must become a David Fairclough-type player and make a real impact after coming on.

Not too bad so far

Regardless of the Boro game, Lambert hasn't actually done too badly playing for his boyhood side.

In Liverpool's opening Premier League game against Southampton, he came off the bench when the score was tied at 1-1. The Reds changed their style of play to aid Lambert, by getting the ball out wide and putting crosses into the box and that is how Sturridge bagged the winning goal.

He also was a substitute against Manchester City and linked well with Sturridge to force a Pablo Zabaleta own goal after his header was denied by Joe Hart.

Lambert joined the Reds full-well knowing he would not be a regular in the starting XI. He is a player who comes off the bench when his side are struggling to create chances and need to change the style of play - the England International can do exactly that.

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Rickie Lambert
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