England World Cup 2014: Alan Shearer urges Roy Hodgson to include Southampton striker Rickie Lambert in squad for his penalty prowess
Shearer also believes that Lambert would offer a 'Plan B' in support of Wayne Rooney
Saturday 10 May 2014
Rickie Lambert should be on the World Cup plane to Brazil to give England an edge from the penalty spot and also provide a Plan B in support of Wayne Rooney, according to former captain Alan Shearer.
Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson is set to name his squad for the finals on Monday following the end to the Barclays Premier League season.
Although Rooney will miss the chance to come up against Southampton forward Lambert at St Mary's on Sunday because of a minor groin problem, the Manchester United striker is expected to once again lead England's attack on the big stage this summer.
Just who will offer support remains to be seen - with the likes of United team-mate Danny Wellbeck and Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge also in the frame, while West Ham frontman Andy Carroll could offer another choice as would Jermain Defoe, now playing in the Major Soccer League with Toronto.
However, Shearer - who spearheaded a formidable front partnership with Teddy Sheringham in the run to the semi-finals of Euro 96 and also played at the 199 World Cup - believes Lambert would provide a cool head were the dreaded penalty shoot-out to stand the way of England's progress once more this summer.
"One of the reasons I would take Rickie Lambert is for that eventuality - how important have penalties been for England at major tournaments in the last 25 years?" said Shearer, who will be in Brazil as part of the BBC's World Cup coverage.
"Lambert's record from penalties for Southampton is amazing, but I would take him to Brazil on merit for his overall contribution.
"To have him on your team, knowing that if it goes to a shoot-out he is a virtual banker, is a great feeling for a coach.
"In open play, if we are struggling to score, he is a great option to have - he came on and scored with his first touch in international football against Scotland at Wembley, and that is a decent knack to have.
"My four picks as forwards would be Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck and Lambert.
"You don't need to play for one of the top four to get a game for England now - look at all the Southampton players who are in contention."
Shearer believes deploying someone like Saints platmaker Adam Lallana behind Sturridge would offer Rooney the chance to shine in his prefered deeper central role and finally make a mark on the World Cup.
"It is a gap in the story of his career which he would like to fill, but he probably hasn't yet gone to a World Cup in the best of fitness and you can't argue with his record at international level overall," said Shearer, who scored 30 goals from 63 England caps.
"Wayne has got 38 goals for England, he is only 11 short of Bobby Charlton's record, and I think he will go on to break it.
"But he needs to go out and have a big tournament with England, and if does that, he will be the key to us having a successful World Cup. When Rooney plays well, England play well.
"I am a fan of Rooney, I think he ticks all the boxes as a player, but for him to be put in the same bracket as Messi or Ronaldo, he needs to have a great tournament in Brazil - although having said that, Messi has yet to set the place on fire at a World Cup as well."
Shearer believes a sense of realism might actually allow England to play with a freedom when for once the expectations of a nation will not weigh heavy on the "Golden Generation".
"I am sick of us coming away from a World Cup, after so many of our players have had great seasons for their clubs, wondering why England have not done themselves justice," he said.
"This time, I don't think many people expect us to do well, and that might work in our favour.
"I just wish an England side could come home from a big tournament and say, truthfully, they gave every last drop.
"It would be great to see (Raheem) Sterling or Lallana have a great World Cup, something where we could see we are on the right track, people at home will accept that."
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