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Rickie is ready for the next level
Rickie Lambert for England could really happen.
The striker’s teammate, Jason Puncheon, suggested in the Echo last week that he thinks it not only could but should be a reality.
The last time it was talked about it was pie in the sky but it now feels like a very real possibility.
Given that all the indications are that Roy Hodgson will name an experimental squad for the friendly against Brazil at Wembley early next month, then Lambert has to be in with a shout.
Putting together the stats on Lambert’s competitors for a berth in the squad gave an even greater sense of possibility.
Hodgson is known to like to have a big man as an option up front too which weighs in Lambert’s favour.
The competition for that role is not that intense.
Andy Carroll has been out injured and, though due back very shortly indeed, surely won’t be considered fit enough. Grant Holt has also struggled for form this season while Peter Crouch has been in and out at Stoke.
For the last friendly Hodgson named Wayne Rooney, obviously a shoe-in when available, as well as Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the latter gets another call given he has hit the ground running at Liverpool.
Any call for Welbeck would be more on what he has shown he can do in the past than his current form which has been up and down.
And, though he is a decent presence, he is more rangy than physically strong in the way Lambert is.
Dip beyond that and you are looking at more of the small and pacy type strikers with the likes of Theo Walcott and Jermaine Defoe deservedly top of the list.
They are at more glamorous clubs than Lambert, and have more glamorous backgrounds, but Lambert offers something different and has proved himself to be every inch the Premier League player.
He has not only scored goals – ten in the top flight and counting – but has also performed very well.
He has shown he can be a force to be reckoned with for the very best defenders, his physical presence and ability to peel onto full backs causing havoc even against some of the very best defences around.
You have to be honest when weighing these things up and say that age does go against him.
At 30 years old and in his first season in the top flight he is not exactly one for the future or an experienced head.
Hodgson is trying to replace some of the old guard with fresh blood and, while Lambert isn’t tainted with past failures, he also isn’t young.
Of course, Hodgson will also want a bit of experience in there too but Lambert’s career at the highest level has been short thus far.
That said, he should still be able to perform to a very high level for a few years yet, so Hodgson should not count him out of being around for at least one major tournament.
Does Lambert deserve it?
Absolutely he does. Jason Puncheon is quite correct about that.
It would be a fairytale story and just remarkable for such a nice and likeable guy.
He can have done no more to press his case, and that’s about as high a compliment as you could pay him.