Rickie Lambert says he wants his place in the Saints team to come under threat next season.
The 32-year-old has featured in all-but-one of the club’s 34 league games this term, with an increasing onus on him following the January departure of record-signing Dani Osvaldo.
While Lambert’s position as Saints’ number-one striker is currently undisputed, he would like to see another player added in that position this summer.
“I hope so,” he said. “I don’t want to be the only striker really, I want them to bring in top-quality players and I think we do need a striker, so I hope so.”
The England World Cup hopeful believes that there is already one other player at the club, however, who will become an increasingly influential presence next season – 18-year-old Sam Gallagher, pictured below.
“I think he can play the top role really well,” said Lambert.
“He’s 18, and his understanding of the game already is superb.
“If he carries on progressing, I think next year you’re really going to see Sam progress into a top player.
“His progression over the last six months has been frightening really.
“When I first saw him, I was a little bit unsure, but, after two or three months of training with the first team, you could see what he had, and it’s full credit to the coaching staff, under-21s, and the manager as well.”
With Gallagher learning the same position that he operates in so effectively, Lambert explained that he tries to offer guidance whenever it is appropriate to the teenager.
“It’s little moments you get now and again where you think that you can help him,” he said.
“You can go up to him and speak to him, but you’ve just got to wait for little moments where you think ‘Try and do this a little bit differently,’ or stuff like that.
“But, like I said, the attitude on the kids coming up, it’s full credit to like Doddsy [under-18s coach Jason Dodd], and the under-21s, because they’re just willing to learn.
“The attitude’s top class and they take on everything, so, yeah, I do try and help them when I can.”