Positional Sense: Centre Forward

Posted by Chris Rann

We've always loved a talisman at Southampton. Be it Mick Channon, Ron Davies, Terry Paine, Matt Le Tissier or any of the other wonderful players who have graced the red and white, Saints tend to have a central figure who really gets the crowd excited.

Michael Steele/Getty ImagesRickie Lambert has been productive, but Southampton can't count on him maintaining the same level of play next season.

In recent years it has been (and deservedly so) Rickie Lambert. Despite suggestions from so-called experts and former players that he would struggle to reproduce his prolific League One form in the Championship, Lambert not only made them eat that big plate of words, but also had them trying to stomach a plentiful helping of seconds after hitting 15 goals in the Premier League last term.

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Ever-reliable Lambert has brought much more than goals to the Saints team, and if you look at the squad through squinted vision, the suggestion would be that this is an are where Saints are looking healthy. But Rickie is heading rapidly towards 32, and already last season it looked as if he was relied upon too much. At times as the season played out, the Scouse forward (amongst others) started to look a little jaded. The backup to Lambert is verging on non-existent. Jay Rodriguez chipped in with a few goals, but I really think manager Mauricio Pochettino sees him in an attacking support role as opposed to an out-and-out forward and I would agree with him.

Guly do Prado is technically up there with the best in the squad, but his goal contribution has tailed off over the last 12 months and I don't think he will get much pitch time in the coming season. Emmanuel Mayuka has looked sharp at times, but has yet to justify his move to the Premier League and Tadanari Lee looks all but back in his native Japan.

There is a question mark over Billy Sharp. Many Saints fans would like to see him given a chance in the Premier League after spending last season on loan at Nottingham Forest, but I think that might be wishful thinking. Sharp will be long remembered for his Championship heroics but I would suggest it unlikely that he has much of a future with the club.

From the youth ranks the name of Ryan Seager is synonymous with goals (20 for the U-18's last term) but he might be a long way off the first team.

That leaves a pretty straight-forward decision for the Southampton FC 'transfer committee' in my book.

Verdict: Strengthen the centre forward position? Yes. Lambert cannot be relied on for goals all season. Were he to suffer a long-term injury it could be crucial to Saints' chances.

Keep the faith.

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