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Rickie Lambert praises former boss

Rickie Lambert's versatile play should suit Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool.
Rickie Lambert played under Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton before joining Liverpool.

New Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert has credited his former boss Mauricio Pochettino with giving him a major push towards England's World Cup squad.

Lambert completed a four-million-pound move to Merseyside from Southampton last Monday.

The boyhood Liverpool fan, who spent five years at Anfield as a youth player before being released, scored 14 goals in 39 appearances for the Saints last season.

His form was enough to win him a place in Roy Hodgson's 23-man party for the World Cup in Brazil, with England's opening game against Italy in Manaus next Saturday.

And Lambert says that he was inspired by manager Pochettino, who himself left St Mary's Stadium at the end of May to take charge of Tottenham on a five-year-deal.

The 32-year-old told British Sunday newspapers: "Everything went my way at Southampton and each manager that came in improved me massively and especially Mauricio. He taught me how to be a different kind of player and I think that's helping now.

"I never really got taught to be a striker in the first place and then I never got taught how to be a lone striker."

Pochettino was a centre-back during his own playing days in Argentina, France and Spain, but gained an insight into the striker's role that Lambert found invaluable.

The former Argentina international told the forward to use his energy more wisely, and to wait for Southampton teammates such as Adam Lallana to get into the right positions with the ball before making his runs.

Lambert added: "He taught me how to be the lone striker -- and the thing that I was doing wrong most was the fact I thought I had to show for everyone on the pitch.

"Whoever had the ball, I felt I had to run over and show for the ball, get on the ball. He was saying 'take your time' and 'wait until the right people have got on to the ball' like Adam Lallana and others further up the pitch. After that, I had an understanding of how to play that position a lot better."

Lambert said that he also benefited from some of Pochettino's quirkier methods, such as getting the Southampton players to walk over hot coals during a pre-season conditioning programme.

Pochettino also brought in motivational speaker Xesco Aspar, the former coach of Barcelona's handball team, to help his players.

Lambert said: "That was the easy part, walking on hot coals. That was a relaxing afternoon. Mauricio Pochettino took us away for 18 days, including 11 days in Portugal, to do all the conditioning work.

"It was all very specific, it wasn't just run to a tree and back. It was very well organised. On the coals he got some fella in [Aspar] to try to give us that winning mentality. It was very interesting.

"One of his methods was to walk across burning coal bare-footed. It was a challenge: mind over matter. You knew nothing worse could happen to you during the season."

Lambert, who scored on his England debut against Scotland last August, thought he had little chance of making it at the top level after being released by Liverpool as a teenager.

He made it back to the Premier League with Southampton in 2012, having signed for them when they were in League One after stints with Blackpool, Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers.

Lambert said: "I just needed that chance. Roy Hodgson gave me the chance and I managed to score on my debut against Scotland.

"To be honest, I wasn't expecting a chance at Liverpool either but I have got it.

"Now that I've got it I will do everything to not let it go and I am more than confident that I will take the chance and I will be able to improve my game again. I've done that every season.

"I'm going to get fitter. I'm going to do everything I can to get onto the next level now. Even though I'm 32 I feel like a kid again. I've got so much enthusiasm for the game. The fact that I'm playing under Brendan Rodgers and for Liverpool, I just can't wait."

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