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Lambert fitness key to first England start tonight
7:29am Friday 6th September 2013 in Sport
RICKIE Lambert’s fitness has earnt him the chance to make his first England start against Moldova tonight.
With Daniel Sturridge sidelined by a groin strain that is also set to keep him out of Tuesday’s trip to Ukraine, England will name the Saints talisman as their attacking spearhead at Wembley.
“It was a straight choice between Lambert and (Jermain) Defoe,” said boss Roy Hodgson, who is also without Wayne Rooney.
“It's partly the fact Lambert turned up fully fit having played the three matches (for Saints in the Premier League).
“Jermain hasn't played and turned up with a slight injury. That swayed me to turn my attention to Rickie.”
Hodgson has not only taken the unusual step of naming his entire starting line-up, he also allowed England's WAGs into the team hotel in Watford last night, although it appears they were kept apart from their partners overnight.
It belies a relaxed approach to the easiest of England's final four games of the qualification campaign, which Hodgson is confident his charges will eventually come through successfully.
“I'm confident,” he said.
“Coaches are entitled to believe in their players, and I don't need to be cowed by figures from the past.
“I'm working with a good group of players who have the ability, the desire and the wish to do well.
“I fully believe they will.”
Team: Hart, Walker, Jagielka, Cahill, Cole, Gerrard, Wilshere, Lampard, Walcott, Lambert, Welbeck.
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