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Matt Le Tissier: Who I would want at World Cup finals in Brazil for England
The Saints legend believes that both players possess different qualities that would make them assets for England this summer, and that each has put forward a strong case for inclusion.
Alongside first-choice forwards Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney, Le Tissier expects Roy Hodgson to also take Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck to Brazil.
But he believes there is still room for both Lambert and Rodriguez to make it there as well.
“Rooney and Sturridge will go, and Welbeck will go, and then there are one or two more spots that I don’t think are cut and dried,” he said.
“I would take Rickie and Jay, although, obviously, I’m biased.
“They both offer something, and both offer different things.
“They’re a pairing that offer completely different attributes, and I think that may appeal to Roy Hodgson.”
When statistics are analysed, it is indeed those five players who have been the stand-out English strikers in this season’s Premier League.
The cases for Lambert and Rodriguez are also helped by the minimal impact that the men seen as their main rivals have had this season.
Jermain Defoe barely played for Spurs before joining Major League Soccer side Toronto, while West Ham’s Andy Carroll has also featured only sporadically, and hasn’t turned out for England since October 2012.
While Lambert has proven on more than one occasion this season that he can have an impact at international level, Rodriguez is not as well tested.
He has received just 45 minutes, in an underwhelming night for England last November, as they lost 1-0 at Wembley to Chile.
While many expected Rodriguez to be cast aside following his debut, at least when it came to consideration for this summer, the 24-year-old has not slipped quietly back to his club, instead embarking on a scintillating run in which he has scored 11 times in 23 games.
“Not only this season, but the back end of last season he was pretty impressive too,” said Le Tissier.
“It took a few months for him to settle in at the start, but I thought he adapted very well at the back end of last season, and I was quite excited about this season for him, because of the confidence and the belief he would have got from that.
“His form in the last few months, especially since Christmas, has been outstanding.
“His pace frightens people, and he’s learned how to use it and when to use it.
“His workrate for the team is right up there, and I think his condition has improved a fair bit since he came to the club as well.
“Probably training alongside, and doing shooting drills alongside, someone like Rickie Lambert – who is a cool and accomplished finisher – will have helped him too.
“He’s a boy who’s learning all the time.
“He was probably a little bit disappointed his England debut didn’t go a little bit better, but hopefully more chances will come.
“I think his form at the back end of the season has warranted him getting a few more chances.”
It might even warrant a ticket to Brazil.
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