Sky Sports pundits: Rickie Lambert deserves to start ahead of Mario Balotelli

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Neville: Rickie Lambert deserves to start ahead of Mario Balotelli…

Gary Neville will never be a popular figure on Merseyside, but he was talking sense last night as he praised Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert, and backed him to keep his place in the team.

Reports in the Daily Mail carry quotes from Neville, who claimed Lambert deserves to start ahead of Mario Balotelli, even after the £16m Italian forward returns from injury.

Lambert has scored in each of Liverpool’s last two games, and broke his Champions League duck in the draw against Ludogorets on Wednesday evening. Balottelli has failed to score in the Premier League since joining from AC Milan, but has remained Brendan Rodgers’ first choice.

Neville was full of praise for Lambert, saying: “He should be playing 100 per cent ahead of Balotelli. The Liverpool players will want Rickie Lambert. He’s someone to play off and make movements. He deserves to keep his place. He brought people into play and showed a good touch.”

Reds legend Jamie Carragher agreed with his Sky Sports partner, by claiming Lambert should have had more opportunities after being restricted to just two Premier League starts since his summer switch to Merseyside.

“He needs to be playing regularly,” said Carragher. “Maybe not against the elite, but in your run-of-the-mill games he should have had more opportunities. He’s a goalscorer and can hold the ball up.”

His thoughts were echoed by another former Red, Graeme Souness, who claimed the former Southampton man could be the answer to Liverpool’s goal problems: “He’s a clever player and knows the position inside out,” he said.

“He’s a throwback if you like, a traditional centre forward. He will take the centre half on and has an eye for goal.”

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