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Liverpool’s Lambert close to first start of season

It must be great to be Rickie Lambert right now. At the age of 32 he is finally playing at the club he has supported all his life, after working his way up from non-league football and a job in a beetroot bottling plant.

Now he could be about to make his Champions League bow with Liverpool, as they prepare to take on Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria. The Reds are 28/1 to win the competition they last won in 2005, and Lambert will cut the figure of a man whose childhood dream has finally come true.

Although he hasn’t yet played a major part in the Premier League this term, one may suspect, these are exactly the types of matches that Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has signed him for. Lambert represents the kind of striker that will cause potentially tricky teams problems, whether they be relative unknowns in Europe, or tough away days at Stoke City on a mid-winter Monday evening.

Every team needs players with character, and Lambert has that in spades. As if personifying his life, he is a grafter on the football field, and generally reaps the rewards. In the long term, the striker could turn out to be the perfect foil to Mario Balotelli. The enigmatic Italian has often been criticised for being greedy, and having Lambert alongside him, winning flick-ons and teeing him up could be a successful partnership.

Speaking prior to the game against Aston Villa, boss Rodgers spoke briefly about Lambert’s chances of starting, touching on his attitude towards the club since his move in the summer. “Rickie has been very good since he’s come in,” the Reds boss said.

“He’s working very well and if he doesn’t get a start (against Aston Villa) he’ll definitely start against Middlesbrough in the cup, his game-time will come.”

Whether he features in Liverpool’s Ludogorets match is a problem Rodgers has to work out, though it is fair to say, Lambert won’t be going back to the beetroot factory. The Reds are 12/1 to reach the Champions League final.