Lack of Plan B options is reason for Lambert World Cup backing

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Of the 142 players that Ladbrokes have priced up as possible options to be in England’s final 2014 World Cup squad, it is no real surprise that Rickie Lambert is proving the most popular with punters.

Although Lambert offers a lot more than the stereotypical target-man striker, it is in this classification that the Southampton man best fits into.

Roy Hodgson is pretty much guaranteed to take at least four strikers on the plane to Brazil, with the possibility of a few extra if the likes of Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are also considered to be back-up in the wider forward areas.

It is also fairly certain that Hodgson will take one striker that is a lot more physical, possesses more of an aerial threat and can be thrown on in the final 10 minutes of a game if England are behind and sending more hopeful long balls towards the opposition penalty box.

There is not a long list of candidates who possess these characteristics, which leaves competition for Lambert thin on the ground.

Among the players in the England World Cup betting who could fill this purpose are Cameron Jerome (50/1), Aaron Wilbraham (50/1) and Connor Wickham (40/1).

The latter has been the focus of one £10 wager, despite being sent on loan to Sheffield Wednesday after failing to hold down a spot in a Sunderland side that have scored just eight league goals this season, the second-worst total in the Premier League.

In reality, Hodgson only has a choice between two options, with Lambert and Andy Carroll both priced at 7/4 to make the squad.

Carroll was a member of the Euro 2012 party, but is yet to feature this season for West Ham because of a heel problem and still seems to be at least a month away from returning to the first team.

Lambert has not only been on target in his three international appearances so far, but has four Premier League goals to his name, alongside three assists in as many games.

It is unfair to focus solely on Lambert’s physical attributes too, as he much more than a presence in attack, capable of holding the ball up and winning flick-ons. He is adept at through passes, working the channels and generally linking play.

As things stand, Lambert is virtually impossible to leave behind and so those taking the 7/4 look to be making a shrewd investment.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.