Rickie Lambert is satisfied with his start to the season, and says his all-round game is continuing to improve.
The striker has enjoyed a solid start to the campaign for both club and country, and returned to the Saints starting line up with a bang against Fulham last weekend. Rickie had started on the bench up at Old Trafford prior to that game, but despite that omission, he told Saints Player that he is confident of playing his way into the team on a regular basis.
“I have seen some reports, but I’ve had that all my career and I know that as soon as one goal goes in, more seem to follow so I’m hoping that’s the case this time,” he said.
“I’m also hoping that people are seeing what kind of role I’m playing because it’s not the same role that I’ve been playing in the last few years, it’s changed. I’m working a lot harder defensively, and I hope people are seeing that, but I’m absolutely enjoying it.
“I want to score because I think that’s the best way to help the team and I am trying, but I’m hoping I can go on a bit of a run now.”
Lambert notched his third goal of the season for Saints in the 2-0 win over Fulham, and the striker, who scored in both games against Stoke last season, was delighted to play his part in another success at home.
“It was very nice to get a goal,” he said. “Obviously I wanted to play because every player does, but we all believe in what the gaffer is doing, so whatever he chooses we’re all waiting to help the team and to help the squad. It was my turn to play on Saturday and I was determined to do well and hopefully get a goal, which I did so yes, I was happy.
“I’m still confident,” he added, before fondly recalling his assist for Jay Rodriguez’s goal where he nodded down a cross from an Adam Lallana. “Yes, it was like the League One days, wasn’t it? It was a great ball in by Adam. He has been top-drawer this season, by the way.
“As hard as it was and as tough as some of the days of pre-season were, I think it’s helped everyone and especially Adam. I think it’s given him that extra yard of pace, a bit of strength, and most of all, a bit of confidence to go and compete against the best players. I think he did well last year, but the way he’s started this season is the best I’ve seen him and it’s awesome to watch at the minute.
“Throughout the years I’ve said it in interviews even two-three years ago that I look up to him even though I’m older than him. The way he is on the pitch and his desire to win a game is brilliant to watch and it’s inspiring.
“When he got the captain’s armband he thought he had to do something extra, but I don’t think he has to do that this year he just needs to be himself because that is more than enough and that’s why myself and everyone else in the team follows him. He’s a great captain and a great player.”
Both Lambert and Lallana have acclimatised to life in the top-flight, with the former looking forward to returning to the Britannia Stadium this weekend.
“We did really well last year and we were unlucky not to win there,” Lambert recalled. “It was a great game and to be fair to them when they got on top and the fans were on top, it was a great atmosphere, so I’m hoping it’s going to be a great atmosphere again on Saturday.
“They’ve changed a little bit,” the forward added of their opponents. “They still play to their strengths, but they try and play a little bit so we’ve got to go there to win. They were unlucky on Saturday [against Manchester United] not to win, let alone draw, and we know it’s going to be a hard game so that’s what we’re up for, and to try and take three points.
“We’re not really focused on what anyone else thinks or what usually happens. We’re just going to go about it in our own way and we’re not thinking about where we’re going to finish, we’re just thinking about Saturday, that’s all we’re doing and hopefully we’ll take three points from there.”