Southampton boss Adkins defends starting Rickie Lambert on bench

Nigel Adkins has defended starting Rickie Lambert on the Southampton bench after losing their opening Premier League match 3-2 at Manchester City.

Lambert scored four minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute to draw the Saints level at 1-1 before Steven Davis put them 2-1 in front.

"It was a big decision to leave Rickie out but I've got to be brave enough to make them," said Saints boss Adkins.

Lambert's log

  • 1998-2000: Blackpool - three appearances
  • 2001-02: Macclesfield - 49 apps, 10 goals
  • 2002-05: Stockport - 110 apps, 19 goals
  • 2005-06: Rochdale - 68 apps, 28 goals
  • 2006-09: Bristol Rovers - 155 apps, 59 goals
  • 2009-present: Southampton - 158 apps, 88 goals

"We ran them close but our endeavour is to win. We've got to find ways to win."

Lambert, 30, the top scorer in the Championship last season, drilled home a loose ball just before the hour mark and Davis fired in a second as Southampton threatened to become the first team to beat the Premier League's defending champions in the opening game of the season.

"We got him on the pitch in the latter stages of the game when he's going to be dangerous and what a great goal it was," Adkins added. "That's important."

Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri scored in the final 20 minutes to ensure City got off to a winning start but Adkins refused to be too downbeat.

"Our defenders have just played against the best forward line they've ever faced, as a team that's the best team we've ever faced," he continued.

"Their movement is outstanding and if you allow them space and time they're going to hurt you but we'll learn from that.

"It was always going to be challenging but we've given ourselves an opportunity to get something from it. I think they only conceded 12 goals at home last season. We've just scored two against them.

"We knew we were going to have to defend well but as the game went on the players grew in confidence.

"I was really pleased for James Ward-Prowse, making his Premier League debut as a 17-year-old, and he was outstanding.

"We try to play football the right way, we try and pass it but we have to find ways to win games in the Premier League. We have to keep our belief strong that we can come away from home and win points because that's what we have to do."