By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Southampton are willing to sell Rickie Lambert in the January window, Goal has learned.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino is preparing to sanction the shock sale of the England striker as he steps up his overhaul of the team that his predecessor Nigel Adkins built.
Goal understands that Pochettino is ready to offload Lambert for tactical reasons, amid doubts as to whether the centre-forward has the mobility and movement to flourish in his system.
|20/1||Rickie Lambert is 20/1 with William Hill to score a hat-trick against Crystal Palace on Saturday
The Argentine, who has made a favourable impression at Southampton since succeeding Adkins in January, wants to make club-record summer signing Dani Osvaldo the fulcrum of the attack.
Southampton believe they can maximise Lambert’s value by selling him in January, a month before his 32nd birthday, rather than wait until next summer when his price tag will have diminished.
West Ham would be expected to be among the clubs interested in signing the England international, who signed a contract extension in March that runs until the summer of 2016.
It would be regarded as a risky move by Southampton to sell Lambert as he is a firm favourite of the supporters after playing a central role in consecutive promotions and then helping preserve the club’s Premier League status following their return to the top flight last season.
The 31-year-old has scored 104 goals in 201 appearances for the club since joining from Bristol Rovers in 2009 and made an immediate impact for the national team when he was called up to the England squad last month, scoring in his first two matches against Scotland and Moldova.
He had played every minute of Southampton’s league season, which had yielded a single goal, until he was substituted with 24 minutes remaining of the convincing 1-0 victory at Liverpool last weekend.
Osvaldo has also started the Saints’ last three matches but has yet to open his scoring account for his new employers.