Roy Hodgson has announced the England squad for Brazil after a year’s worth of speculation and Rickie Lambert has been selected to offer an alternative option in the striking positions.
The rise of the Southampton striker has been nothing short of a fairytale and it will be amazing to see him at the World Cup if he does feature, given he was regarded as a lower league striker for the majority of his career, but there some people think that Andy Carroll should have made the squad ahead of Lambert. They are both physical players, but Lambert is better at linking up play and can play in a system that involves passing football as evidenced at Southampton, while Carroll would need a more direct style.
The Southampton striker has had another great season in the top flight, scoring 13 goals and getting 10 assists. This highlights his ability to create, as well as score goals. He created a chance every 52 minutes, while he managed to shoot every 35 minutes. His clear cut chance conversion of 61% shows he is calm in front of goal when he gets an opening. He has an astonishing penalty record at Southampton which could play a part this summer, he has yet to miss for the Saints in 34 attempts. This may have been considered by Hodgson and his team when selecting the squad.
Meanwhile, Andy Carroll only played 15 times for West Ham this season and he was not fully fit for the majority of those. He only managed to find the net on two occasions, but he did get four assists. He was less creative than Lambert this season, only creating a chance every 73 minutes. He was also less clinical, only converting 17% of his clear cut chances. The West Ham striker is not a natural penalty taker either. The stats suggest Lambert has had a far better season than Carroll, but there are more things that need to be considered when selecting a squad.
Roy Hodgson opted to pick Luke Shaw ahead of Ashley Cole as he looks ahead to the future, but he has also chosen to pick the 32 year old Lambert over the 25 year old Carroll. The former Liverpool and Newcastle striker has experience at an international tournament after being part of the Euro 2012 squad, during which he managed to score a crucial goal against Sweden. If he manages to stay fit over the next six years, he has the potential to become a key squad player for England, therefore it’s easy to see why some would have wanted to see the Geordie in Rio this summer.
Although Carroll has youth on his side, it would have been very difficult for Hodgson to select the striker ahead of Lambert, as the Southampton striker has been a lot better this campaign. If Carroll had played a full season and scored upwards of ten goals, then maybe there would have been a real selection problem for the England manager, but the West Ham striker’s injury hit season made the decision much easier for Hodgson. Carroll is on the standby list though, which shows he remains a part of Hodgson’s plans going forwards. For now, Lambert’s incredible fairytale continues. Next stop, Rio.