RICKIE Lambert has been linked with a move away from Saints.

Southampton's talisman, who has spearheaded the club's surge from League One to the Premier League, is the focus of interest from Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert, according to reports in the national press.

It would be a huge shock if Saints were willing to let the number seven go, such is his importance to Nigel Adkins' side.

He scored the team's first Premier League goal in seven years when he came off the bench against Manchester City and started against Wigan on Saturday.

Although Adkins has a number of other strikers on the books - Sharp, Lee, Rodriguez, Guly and now Mayuka - none play quite the same roll as fans' favourite Lambert, making it highly unlikely that the Saints boss would even contemplate letting the 30-year-old leave St. Mary's.

The Saints boss has repeatedly backed his star striker to be a success in the Premier League, underlining the regard he holds Lambert in.

Since being signed by Alan Pardew for £1m in August 2009, Lambert has played 160 times for Saints, scoring 89 times.

Over the weekend, Championship side Blackburn Rovers were also linked with an audacious £4m move for Lambert.

  • Don't forget the best way to keep up with the rumours involving who is joining or leaving Saints is with our transfer rumour round-up .