Lambert came off the bench to score the winning goal against Scotland on debut last month.
And now, with Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge both injured, the 31-year-old will get his first start at international level on Friday night when England host Moldova at Wembley.
Lambert was joint-top English scorer in the Premier League last season after scoring 15 goals.
He has maintained that form so far this season, following up his debut header against the Scots with a strike for Southampton against West Brom.
"I have picked the team and Rickie Lambert will start, yes," Hodgson said in an interview with radio reporters.
"He deserves a chance. I can't deny had Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge had been available, it would have been harder for him to get a starting place but I am more than happy to have a player of his calibre to start this game."
Hodgson all but named the starting XI for the qualifier against Moldova.
Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and either Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines are expected to start in front of Joe Hart while Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere will definitely play in midfield.
Hodgson confirmed that Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck will provide Lambert with assistance from the flanks.
Sturridge was the obvious replacement for Rooney, who was ruled out for the games against Moldova and Ukraine last weekend with a head injury.
But the Liverpool striker carried a thigh injury into the Reds' victory over Manchester United on Sunday and he was on Thursday ruled out of Friday's game.
The former Chelsea man has gone back to Liverpool for a day of rest and he will join up with the England squad on Sunday at the Grove Hotel in Watford.
The England medical team will then assess whether he is fit enough to fly to Ukraine for the crunch game in Kiev.
Hodgson is unsure whether he will make the trip to Ukraine.
"(Sturridge) has worked hard at his treatment and the initial prognosis was that he wouldn't be fit for either of them but he didn't accept that," Hodgson said.
"He's worked very hard and had the necessary treatment but I think it will be touch and go.
"On Sunday evening we'll have a training session before heading for Ukraine. If he passes it then he'll be with us. Otherwise then he'll be staying with Liverpool."
Given that they trail leaders Montenegro by two points, and lead Ukraine by just one, England are desperate to rack up two wins in the next few days.
Hodgson has therefore bemoaned the fact that he will be without several key players.
"We've not exactly been lucky have we?" he said. "Now there's Daniel and there was Wayne (Rooney) and two potential right-backs in Glen Johnson and Phil Jones, and before that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
"So we have lost five players and a few weeks ago I was really banking on them.
"It's a great opportunity for the ones who maybe wouldn't have got a game had they been available.
Hodgson also confirmed that Steven Caulker injured his ankle and will not play against Moldova.
The England boss hopes the Cardiff defender will be available for the Ukraine game, however.
England swept Moldova aside 5-0 in their opening Group H qualifier last September, but poor results against Montenegro, Ukraine and Poland have left the team in a precarious position with just four games left.
Hodgson will therefore resist the temptation to rest some of his players for the Moldova game.
"I think these four games are all important," he said.
"I don't subscribe to the theory that this is an easy one and then there's a difficult one, then you've got a fairly easy one and a fairly difficult one. I don't quantify games in that way.
"Moldova - after our initial victory over them, where we took them by surprise and had a very good win - have become very hard to beat and we know they're going to be hard to beat tomorrow night.
"I need my best players to do it."