Lambert praises Saints home-grown talent

Rickie Lambert believes other Premier League clubs are missing a trick by not investing as much time, money and effort into home-grown players as Southampton.

Steven Davis of Southampton

While Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea spent lavish amounts of money on foreign imports this year, the real good news story of the season so far has come from the south coast.

Southampton, who were playing third-tier football 30 months ago, sit third in the Barclays Premier League after an outstanding start to the current campaign.

Yes, owner Nicola Cortese and manager Mauricio Pochettino spent heavily on signing the likes of Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Dani Osvaldo last summer, but the focus very much relies on home-grown talent.

Cortese's aim is pretty clear.

He says: "We want to see a starting XI in the Premier League that is fed from our youth development."

Lambert, of course, has not come through Southampton's famed Academy, but Adam Lallana, who is the squad for England's games against Chile and Germany, has.

Youth products James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw are also knocking on the door while defenders Calum Chambers, Matt Targett and Jordan Turnbull are England Under-19 internationals.

Lambert is fiercely proud of Cortese's mantra and he reckons other clubs are wasting money by doing otherwise.

"I think a lot of other chairmen are going out and spending money on the continent instead of investing in young British players and that is a shame," the Saints striker said.

"I'm not just saying it because I am at Southampton but I think other chairmen need to take a look at how (Cortese) has done things and make it an example.

"Nicola made it clear that the youth system is the way we are going to go.

"It has given them the confidence to feel free and play their stuff.

"To see the players like Prowsey, Chambo (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) and Luke Shaw coming through and Callum Chambers as well, it's a pleasure to be part of it."

As it stands, Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Lallana are on course to be in Hodgson's provisional squad for the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Ward-Prowse and Shaw, who are with the Under-21s, may get a chance to impress at senior level in March.

If Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain recover from injury, as expected, there is a chance that over a third of Hodgson's World Cup squad could be current or ex-Southampton players.

As for those in the current set-up, Lambert had nothing but praise for Lallana and Rodriguez, who are likely to earn their first caps on Friday against Chile.

"They are doing superb," Lambert said.

"I have been banging the drum about them for a while now so to see them getting recognition from the England manager is brilliant and truly deserved.

"Adam is a one-off. I've never played with anyone like him.

"He's the best player I've played with. We've known how good he is for years and he's starting to show on the world stage how good he can be."

With all the focus on the two new additions to the squad, it is easy to forget that this could be the week in which Lambert cements his place in Hodgson's party for Brazil.

With question marks surrounding the long-term fitness of Andy Carroll, Lambert is in possession of the 'alternative' striker slot for the World Cup.

One reason Hodgson could do with having Lambert in Brazil is because of his near-faultless penalty record.

Whilst most English footballers have found it exceedingly difficult to score from 12 yards over the years, Lambert has scored his last 33 penalties.

Should he make the plane to Brazil, he would have no qualms about taking a penalty in the World Cup finals.

"Obviously if I got that chance I would be confident scoring," said Lambert, who has a pretty straightforward technique when it comes to spot-kicks.

"It is not rocket science to be honest.

"I just pick a corner and hit it as hard as I can and just be confident.

"It is working pretty well."

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