Rickie Lambert has told Chile’s Alexis Sanchez that he will regret claiming England are too soft to win the World Cup.
The England striker hopes to face his counterpart on Friday and suggested the reported jibe at Roy Hodgson’s side will add an edge to the friendly game.
“You can’t buy motivation like that,” Lambert told Sky Sports News. “It’s his opinion and we will take it on board and be looking forward to the game on Friday.”
Barcelona forward Sanchez has been reported as claiming the luxuries of life in England have restricted the drive and desire of their players.
The 24-year-old said: “We are a tougher team than England. Everything is so easy for them. They join these academies at maybe 10 or 11 years old and everything is done for them.
“I used to wash cars for such little money just so I had enough money to buy my football boots. When you are at academies like Manchester United and Arsenal, then everything is just given to you.
“With countries like England, if you don’t make it as a professional football player then there are still many other opportunities, and you still have a chance to live a good life.
“My family was so poor that football for me was about survival.”
In English terms, at least, Lambert has had a far from cosseted ride to the top. The 31-year-old only broke into the national team in August and has spent most of his career in the lower divisions with teams such as Blackpool, Macclesfield and Stockport.
Now leading the line for Southampton in the Premier League, he is looking to establish himself in the England team before next year’s World Cup.
“This is another opportunity to impress, without a doubt,” Lambert said. “In training I will try to continue to impress and if I get a chance on Friday or Tuesday, whether I am starting or coming on as a sub, I will be determined to do well.”
So, too, will Lambert’s Southampton team-mates, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez. The pair are also in the squad for Friday’s game against Chile and next Tuesday’s Germany friendly.
Their chances of featuring have improved after Michael Carrick and Danny Welbeck pulled out of the squad injured and Lambert says they have earned whatever opportunities come their way.
He said: “They deserve to be there, the way they have performed. All the English lads in the Southampton team have done well but especially Adam and Jay.
“I hope there are openings for them and I am sure they will get a cap sooner or later.”