Southampton striker is determined to make England call-ups a regular thing
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Rickie Lambert has his sights set on next year's World Cup after earning his first call-up to the England squad for their meeting with Scotland.
Lambert fired home 15 goals for Southampton last season, his first campaign in the Premier League, but is aiming even higher this season to convince Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson he is deserving of place in the squad.
The 31-year-old striker admits he has had to work very hard to be where he is after being released from Liverpool as a teenager.
"I was at Liverpool from when I was 10 to 15," he said. "Getting told I wasn’t good enough was hard to take at the time and I thought it was the end of the world.
"I can tell other people now that it’s not the end of the world. It should drive you on to succeed even more."
After the disappointment of leaving the Liverpool academy, he had spells at Blackpool, Macclesfield Town, Stockport County and Rochdale before moving to Bristol Rovers in 2006 where things began to happen.
In three years at the Gas, he bagged 51 goals in 128 games, prompting a move to Southampton, then in League One.
"When I was at Bristol Rovers, that when I really started to make a name," said Lambert.
"I got my move to Southampton and that’s when my physical side changed, my professionalism, the other part of my game I was not so good at.
"When that started to happen that’s when I began to see the main changes on the pitch."
He continued, "But playing for England was a long way away two years ago. A lot has changed in that time, but I was always confident when I was in League One that I was good enough for the Championship. The spell in the Championship gave me the confidence that I could do it in the Premier League as well."
His goals helped catapult the Saints from League One to the Premier League in consecutive seasons, and Lambert's determination to succeed saw him continue to shine.
"I was told by the manager at the time, Alan Pardew, that I’m not a professional as I should be," he revealed.
"I wasn’t fit, I wasn’t looking after my body the way I should have been. That really stuck with me and since then I was really determined to improve.
"I have to give so much credit to Southampton, they’ve been superb for me."
Throughout last season, with the goals going in at a regular rate, there were calls for Lambert to be included in an England squad.
However, he's had to be patient for his chance as says he does want this to be his first and last time at St. George's Park with the national team.
"It didn’t happen last year and I was trying to do as well as I could and I was determined that going back this year I need to do even better, for Southampton first and foremost.
"Playing and realising how hard it is in the Premier League you have to adapt and improve and I think I have done. I believe that I’m going to be better this year for it.
"I don’t want this to be the only time here with England, I really mean that. I’ll be doing everything I can to make that happen.
"I have to do well for Southampton and score goals. I did well last season, but if I can improve on that then that will give me the best chance of making it to the World Cup."