England boss was set to drop star man

Rickie Lambert (Southampton)

England manager Roy Hodgson would have dropped Southampton striker Rickie Lambert if it wasn’t for Danny Welbeck being suspended, according to the Daily Mirror.

Welbeck is banned for the trip to Ukraine in Enland’s biggest World Cup qualifier for years after picking up an underserved yellow card for kicking the ball away just two seconds after the whistle had blown for offside.

Hodgson was furious with officials on Friday night during a routine 4-0 victory of Moldova and the England boss was set to play Welbeck as the Three Lions’ main striker in Kiev on Tuesday night.

Lambert was set to be dropped despite scoring two goals in two games for his country as Hodgson had designed an ultra-defensive system, but the in-form striker will now start.

“It is a big game, but I don’t have any qualms about playing Rickie in Kiev. If you are saying had Rooney and Sturridge been available would he have been a clear alternative, the answer is yes he would because he has very different qualities.

“Rickie was selected to play against Moldova because he merited it. He did well enough to justify the selection.

“If you play well in a game and justify the selection you are entitled to think you will continue.

“But we can’t deny either that the competition for places at centre-forward has been diminished enormously if Sturridge doesn’t make it – and there is a good chance he won’t – and with Rooney and Welbeck definitely not going to make it.”