Rickie Lambert must build on dream debut, says Hodgson

15 August 2013 09:41

England manager Roy Hodgson has told Southampton striker Rickie Lambert he must keep scoring goals if he wants to build on his fairytale international debut against Scotland.

The 31-year-old, who has steadily climbed the leagues during a meandering career, came off the bench after 66 minutes of Wednesday's friendly at Wembley and headed home the decisive goal in a 3-2 win with his very first touch.

It completed an extraordinary rise for a player who has played just one season in the Premier League, but with rival strikers hoping to return from injury in time for September's World Cup qualifiers, Hodgson says the Liverpudlian cannot rest on his laurels.

"He's been a breath of fresh air while he's been with us -- so enthusiastic, so happy to be a part of the squad -- and what a wonderful story that he's now crowned it with the winning goal," said Hodgson, who described Lambert's achievement as a "fairytale".

"Obviously there might be a bit more competition the next time. Daniel Sturridge is hopefully back playing. I read he had 45 minutes or so behind closed doors today (Wednesday).

"Andy Carroll is not so far away from fitness. We'll see what happens in the next three weeks, but he won't be struck off my list very lightly.

"It's now up to him in the next three weeks to go out for Southampton and continue doing what he did last year: playing well and helping his team, but perhaps more importantly, putting the ball in the back of the net, because that's what we know Rickie Lambert can do."

England twice came from behind to level before Lambert's 70th-minute winner, with goals from Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck cancelling out long-range efforts from James Morrison and Kenny Miller.

Hodgson praised his side's doggedness and expressed satisfaction with the performance of Wayne Rooney, who played for 66 minutes after sitting out Manchester United's pre-season campaign with hamstring and shoulder injuries.

"Under normal circumstances, you wouldn't be expecting a player in the middle of August to be playing his first competitive game against Scotland in front of 80,000 at Wembley," Hodgson said.

"It wasn't an ideal situation, but (United manager) David Moyes and the people at Man United have been fantastic.

"They almost welcome the fact that he wanted to play and I was prepared to play him. I think he got 60 very valuable minutes.

"Our first thought was, 'We better not risk him for the next 15,' but he was looking so fit and chasing around and working very hard.

"He of course wanted to stay on, so we took the chance with that extra 15 minutes and fortunately it seems to have gone well because he's fit and raring to go now when he joins his club."

The England manager also heralded the display of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, who played for 45 minutes after making only his second start of Hodgson's tenure.

"He's very important, there's no question of that," Hodgson said.

"He's got that ability to really unlock doors with his incredible footwork and that fantastic change of pace. And for a young man, he's got a very good understanding of the game."

A greasy pitch and a boisterous 20,000-strong band of Scottish fans made for a rousing atmosphere inside the stadium, and Scotland manager Gordon Strachan admitted that he "forgot it was a friendly".

Former Scotland great Kenny Dalglish, writing on Twitter, said it had been "a valiant effort" and that Scotland should feel "proud", but Strachan said twice conceding the lead had been hard to stomach.

"It's a huge disappointment, for everybody," he said.

"It could have been a result you talk about in 40 years' time. We put so much work into it."

Source: AFP