Lambert lauds Southampton system
Published 14/11/2013 | 06:36
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.
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 Calum 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."