With his international goalscoring record of two in two games, Rickie Lambert’s England career has got off to a fine start but in Kiev he will be key in carrying the hopes of his team in their crucial World Cup qualifier against Ukraine with no guarantees that he will be in the squad for Brazil next summer should they make it.
On Monday manager Roy Hodgson offered an interesting take on how a footballer who had not played above League One before the start of the 2011-12 season had suddenly started looking like an international. Modern football prejudices had affected the 31-year-old’s prospects, Hodgson said, including his own after he turned down the chance to sign Lambert at Fulham when the player was at Bristol Rovers.
“In football we go down roads sometimes and say ‘This is what a centre-forward should look like’. Sometimes we forget that you can still be a good centre-forward or right-back or centre-half without having those qualities,” Hodgson said.
“Let’s take a classic example, if we were looking at Bobby Moore today and saying ‘What has our centre-half got to be like?’ we’d say: ‘He has to be very athletic, very fast, very quick on the turn and recovery and come out with the ball from the back and beat people’. A lot of people would say ‘He can’t do this, that and the other’. Perhaps in the past we were [more] kind. The great Tottenham team with Dave Mackay and Danny Blanchflower, there were lots of things they couldn’t do. But there were things they could do and we admired them and built them up for the things they could do. Sometimes I think we are a bit quick to say, ‘Well, he is not quick enough not big enough strong enough.’
“The boy Tom Carroll [at Spurs, on loan at QPR] is an example for me. In the Under-21s, I worked with him for a week and saw him play and he is an outstanding footballer. But people say he is very slight, he’s not very big, he’s not strong. That’s what we tend to do these days. Perhaps Rickie is someone who has come into that category. They have watched him and then found a fault, ie he can’t run like Theo Walcott.”