Hodgson cautious despite Lambert fairytale

Roy Hodgson has cautioned against the expectation of more Roy of the Rovers stories like Rickie Lambert's.


The Southampton forward capped an amazing few days when he scored his first international goal with his very first touch to seal England's 3-2 win over Scotland on Wednesday night.

It was a quite delightful twist to a tale made all the more memorable because it began in the less than glamorous environments of Macclesfield, Stockport and Rochdale, where Lambert spent the early years of his career.

As the 31-year-old celebrated like a giddy schoolboy, it was easy to wonder how many more genuinely good news stories there could be if top flight managers were prepared to trawl through the lower leagues.

Rather brutally, Hodgson's assessment is not many.

"I don't want to exaggerate it," he said. "I don't want to start making too many bold statements.

"It does of course (send a message out). But if you are saying I am now going to spend the coming weeks looking at League Two or the Conference and League One, I am not.

"They would have to be doing a pretty good job in the Premier League. You have to be a little bit special to score 15 goals for Southampton because they are not one of the top five or six teams."

Indeed, Lambert's status as last season's top English goalscorer in the Premier League alongside Frank Lampard, warranted attention once Hodgson knew Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll would be ruled out of Wednesday night's game through injury.

Sturridge is on the comeback trail though and should be available for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.

And with Wayne Rooney certain to be included along with Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck and Tottenham's Jermain Defoe in the squad on Wednesday night, the question now is whether Lambert has a future at international level or if, like David Nugent, Kevin Davies and Francis Jeffers amongst others, last night proves to be his solitary appearance.

"Ricky has a lot of technical ability," said Hodgson.

"The only gap in his game, when we are all talking about how fast people are and how they can zip by people, is pace.

"Does he understand the position he is playing in? Yes. Has he got the technique to deal with the ball? Can he find a pass? Can he deal with a ball when it is fired into him? Yes he can.

"Can he score a goal? Fifteen last year for Southampton says it all."

And Lambert evidently has a superb personality too.

"He has been so enthusiastic and pleased to be with us," said Hodgson.

"The fact he has taken his chance wonderful.

"Only time will tell whether he can add to this cap.

"When Carroll gets fit and Sturridge is back. Then there will be more competition than there was for this game, when a not fully fit Wayne Rooney was the clear choice at centre-forward."

England's win was heartening. The game itself pulsating.

Less positive was the poor defending for Scotland's two goals.

Joe Hart was obviously responsible for their opener but Hodgson found major defensive problems in the build-up.

And Gary Cahill was left stranded by Kenny Miller before the striker drove home his country's second.

"In some ways it was a good lesson for us," said Hodgson.

"This is what we risk coming up against in the next three home matches.

"On the balance of play we might be creating more goal chances and having the lion's share of possession but we have to be very careful that when these teams do break out we are not presenting them with a goal.

"I don't want to be unkind but Scotland didn't have to work hard enough for their goals.

"That is something the players are more than aware of. I don't need to tell them that. They hold their hands up if they make a mistake."

One answer might be to select Phil Jones in a defensive position, which has rarely happened during his short England career.

The Manchester United man got six minutes alongside Cahill as Phil Jagielka's replacement last night but it seems he is a victim of his own versatility.

"We like Phil very much but if he is going to knock Jagielka and Cahill off their perch he is going to have to perform in the Premier League.

"I haven't had an awful lot of chance to see him there."

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