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Rickie eyes Wembley hat-trick
Rickie Lambert is hoping to make it a spectacular Wembley hat-trick after winning a first England call-up.
The 31-year-old Saints talisman was named in Roy Hodgson’s squad for next Wednesday’s friendly against Scotland on the day his wife Amy gave birth to their third child, Bella Rose.
Life is pretty good for Lambert at the moment – and could get even better next week.
The prolific forward is gunning for three major wins out of three at Wembley.
Lambert was part of the Bristol Rovers team who secured promotion via the play-offs in 2007, and three years later scored a penalty to help Saints to win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final against Carlisle.
His latest mission, expected to come in front of more than 80,000 fans, is his highest profile yet.
The call-up marks a fairytale rise to the top for Lambert who was working in a beetroot factory after being released by Blackpool in 2000.
England boss Hodgson said he considered signing the striker when he was manager of Fulham after watching him play against the west London team for Bristol Rovers.
He respects Lambert for making it to the top after such a long journey.
Hodgson said: “What really impressed me about him is that this is a man who has come up the hard way.
“He is a man who has worked hard to prove himself over all these years and deserves his call up at a time when a couple of players like Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll, who might have got the nod ahead of him, are unavailable.”
Lambert is one of four strikers named in the squad, but there are injury doubts over Wayne Rooney and Jermaine Defoe.
“At this moment in time we are actually short of forward players,” said Hodgson.
“There’s no doubt if you go through all of the candidates you still don’t get to more than seven or eight, and then you’re talking about people who might not have played for a number of years.
“For Rickie Lambert, it’s a recognition of everything the man has achieved in football.
“I think that on merit, if we’re to pick someone who last year really stood out as a forward, scoring his goals and playing an important part in a very good season for Southampton, it was Rickie Lambert.
“I had no hesitation in selecting him this time because I wanted four forwards.
“We have even got a slight question mark about Jermaine. “We hope he’s going to be fine – the physios think he will be, he thinks he will be, but at least that way we’ve covered ourselves well.
“And it gives Rickie a chance to show what he can do amongst players of England calibre.”
Lambert has enjoyed a fantastic four seasons at Saints since being signed by Alan Pardew for £1m from Bristol Rovers four years ago tomorrow.
He has plundered 103 league goals for the club and last term bagged 15 in his first ever Premier League campaign.
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