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England manager Roy Hodgson surely can't ignore Southampton's Rickie Lambert now
Rickie Lambert for England? It looks an increasingly plausible notion.
The striker came off the bench at Stamford Bridge last night to score his tenth Premier League goal of the campaign – a beautiful arcing header from Nathaniel Clyne’s right-wing cross that sparked a famous comeback for Nigel Adkins’ side.
No English player has netted more top-flight goals this term than Lambert now.
Only Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez, Demba Ba – who opened the scoring for Chelsea – and Michu have managed more.
It is exalted company that Lambert is keeping. He doesn’t look out of place, either.
It’s certainly not bad for a 30-year-old forward who 18 months ago had not played above League One level and who used to work in a beetroot factory earlier in his career.
His story is already wonderful enough, but perhaps it will soon have an incredible new chapter. Maybe even next month.
February 6 is the date – Brazil versus England, at Wembley.
What a moment that would be for the Liverpudlian, should Roy Hodgson see fit to select him.
And why not?
At Lambert’s age, a long-term international future is perhaps unlikely, but his performances and his goals must surely warrant consideration.
Who would you rather have in your team, Lambert or Andy Carroll? Surely there’s no contest right now.
Hodgson has already shown with his selection of Adam Lallana earlier this season that he is willing to consider players at clubs like Saints for international recognition.
He has even gone so far as to mention Lambert by name.
He might be looking even more seriously now.
Again last night, the powerful number seven proved his worth.
Dropped to the substitutes’ bench, he took just three minutes and five seconds following his second-half introduction to spark Saints’ improbable revival from 2-0 down.
Up to his arrival, Nigel Adkins’ side had played reasonably well, but looked blunt in attack.
With Lambert on, they became menacing. Chelsea hated it, and Saints stormed back.
It all had echoes of Lambert’s response to being dropped on the opening day of the season at Manchester City.
His header was also a reminder of his extensive catalogue of goals – whether his head or his foot, close range or long distance, or from the penalty spot, he is a magnificent finisher. There is not much he misses.
He is a man for the big occasion too. Manchester City, Manchester United and now Chelsea – all clubs he has scored against this season.
What a story if he was to add the name of Brazil to that list.