Premier League managers have voted Rickie Lambert as the lower league player most likely to succeed in the top flight.

The 30-year-old will graduate from the Football League into the elite level of the English game when the new season begins, writes Gordon Simpson.

And Lambert, who netted 31 goals for Saints last term, has received the firm backing of Premier League bosses.

In a survey commissioned by Barclays, title sponsor of the League Managers Association, they were asked which one player from the lower divisions has the potential to play in the top flight.

Lambert, pictured, was the runaway winner, polling 33 per cent of the vote.

Burnley’s Jay Rodriguez, who looks set to complete a £7m move to Saints in the next few days, came second among those who responded, with seven per cent.

A total of 40 per cent of voters picked Saints to fare best next season out of the three sides promoted from the Championship.

Second tier champions Reading polled the same amount, while West Ham garnered just 20 per cent of that particular vote.

Former Saints boss Alan Pardew’s proficiency in the transfer market was also recognised.

The research indicated that 33 per cent of managers considered striker Papiss Cisse as the best buy of the season.

His Newcastle teammate, Demba Ba, was second on 20 per cent alongside Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, A whopping 73 per cent of respondents picked Spain to win this summer’s European Championship, with the remainder of voters choosing Germany.

The same numbers appeared when top flight managers were asked to give their opinion on how England will fare in Poland and Ukraine.

Quarter-finals was the choice pick, with 73 per cent, while the remaining 27 per cent plumped for a semi-final exit.

Joe Hart was picked as the man expected to be England’s best player at Euro 2012, polling 60 per cent.