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Lambert can cope with the biggest game of his life, says England boss
7:41am Tuesday 10th September 2013 in Football
England boss Roy Hodgson has no worries that Saints striker Rickie Lambert will cope with being thrown into the biggest game of his life.
It is barely credible that a player who had never been involved at any higher level than League One just 26 months ago should be charged with the task of leading England's attack in their crucial World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Kiev.
"Rickie's mentality must be very strong," said Hodgson.
"Surely he hasn't just become a talented footballer who has good touch on the ball, works hard for his team and has a good understanding.
"Yet people, including me, have been watching him play and passing him over.
"You have to be very strong mentally to suffer that many knock backs but still keep believing in yourself, to keep saying 'no-one is singing my praises but I am still a good player."
Hodgson feels Lambert may have suffered from the negative assessments that tend to be put forward for players these days.
Rather than concentrate on strengths, the modern trend seems to be highlighting weaknesses. And on the basis no-one is perfect, even the very best can look bad like that.
"Let's take a classic example," said Hodgson. "If we were to list the attributes of a centre-half, we would probably say athletic, fast, quick on the turn and have the ability to come out from the back and beat people.
"If you then looked at Bobby Moore a lot of people would say he can't do this or that.
"Perhaps in the past we were kind and maybe Rickie is someone who has come into that category. "People have watched him and found a fault, for instance he can't run like Theo Walcott, and have gone for someone who can."
As Hodgson looked closely at Lambert when he was in charge of Fulham, he could be found guilty of exactly the same offence. "I am not talking behind his back," he said.
"Even he wouldn't say he was the quickest player. "But he is an athlete. He runs. He can move. He just hasn't got the pace people are looking for in centre forwards these days."
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