Lambert eyes Newcastle opportunity

By SFC Media time Wed 26 Mar Club

Rickie Lambert expects another hard-fought game with the Magpies on Saturday in a direct battle for league position.

The two teams occupy eighth and ninth in the Barclays Premier League table heading into this weekend, and Saints will be looking to make home advantage count in the contest.

Jay Rodriguez struck a second-half equaliser in the reverse of this fixture in December to secure a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park, and Lambert believes that this meeting will be equally close.

“I thought that was a great game,” he recalled to saintsfc.co.uk

“It was a really, really hard game and I thought Newcastle were very good, but I think we definitely deserved a point out of that one.

“It will be a tough game against Newcastle this weekend, it’s always tough because they have strong players that can finish, and under the manager they know how to win games. [Alan] Pardew will know the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition, so we know what to expect.”

The Newcastle boss was in charge of Saints when Lambert arrived here four-and-a-half years ago and Lambert outlined how much has changed for both parties in that time.

“It will be nice to see him,” said the frontman. “Everyone knows my appreciation for him, but a lot of things have happened for us and for him. 

“I’ve moved on a lot since he left. I’m not the player he left behind, I’ve definitely improved a lot but he was a big influence on my career at the time.”

A victory on Saturday would put Saints back above their opponents in the table, and Lambert says the team’s mentality should still be to finish as high up the league as possible regardless of the calibre of the sides above them.

“We aimed for fourth this season, and people laughed at us, but they didn’t laugh at us straightaway when we were second, they waited until we dropped off a bit,” Lambert highlighted.

“Our desire is to get into the top four and that’s the way the club has been run in the past four years and that’s the vision the players have and it’s the one that club has, so for me it’s what the players still want going forward and it’s what we’re expecting to be honest. 

“We definitely believe that we can finish above teams like Newcastle," Rickie added

“I think we adapted to the Premier League last year so we stopped thinking about things in terms of what clubs are bigger than us. 

“We’re Southampton, we get on with our own stuff, and really you’re only as big a club as you want to be in your own head, so if you want to think you won’t be bigger than Newcastle then you never will be, but it’s up to us to push on.”

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