Lambert extends Saints contract

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis has called on his side to

hit Russia with the same type of performance that took them to the

brink of victory in Portugal.

Davis and company defied the odds to claim a 1-1 draw in Porto

five months ago, and were 11 minutes away from a famous win.

Walsall striker Will Grigg (hamstring) is set to miss the

matches against both Russia and Israel. The Saddlers star was set

to start with Kyle Lafferty suspended but has now been ruled

out.

Burnley hitman Martin Paterson could start, although Inverness

striker Billy McKay and Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn and Josh Magennis

are also options.

Fulham defender or midfielder Chris Baird is also suspended for

Northern Ireland.

Results since the draw with Portugal have been disappointing,

with home draws against both Azerbaijan and Luxembourg, but Davis

is looking for another vintage underdog display.

“Of course, the going to be very difficult but we will use our

performance in Portugal as the benchmark,” he said.

“Giving the fans a night like that game in Portugal was a

massive lift but we won’t underestimate just how tough it is going

to be against Russia.

“Like I have said, I think the performances have been good

without getting a little bit of fortune along the way. What is

important for us is to use everything we have to our advantage.

“When we played in Russia we didn’t see a great deal of the ball

and that might be the same again, so when we do get chances we know

we are going to have to be clinical.”

Michael O’Neill has yet to win a match since taking over as

national manager at the start of 2012, meaning Davis is also

looking for a first success since taking over as captain from Aaron

Hughes at the same time.

The 31-year-old has established himself as a firm fans’

favourite at St Mary’s since joining from Bristol Rovers in August

2009.

Lambert has scored 101 goals for Southampton and his 13-goal

haul this season makes him the top English scorer in the Barclays

Premier League.

The striker’s contract had been due to expire at the end of next

season but has now been extended by a further two years.

“I’m over the moon to sign with Southampton for another three

years,” Lambert told the club’s official website,

www.saintsfc.co.uk.

“I am already enjoying myself massively at this club and the aim

now is to stay on for another three years and help push the club on

further than where it already is.

“There is a lot of ambition in this club for the next few years

and that is one of the main reasons that I have signed the contract

– and that is why I want to end my career here.

“The core of players who have been together for two or three

years are going to be here for another three or four years and that

is a really good feeling.

“We all have the same ambition and [executive chairman] Nicola

Cortese’s ambition for this club drives us all on as well, so it

really helps the club with where we are now and it will help with

where we want to go.”

Lambert’s contract extension follows recent new deals handed to

Morgan Schneiderlin, Jason Puncheon and Kelvin Davis – others to

have played a key part in Southampton’s rise from npower League One

to the top flight.

“Rickie Lambert is a very special player for Southampton

Football Club,” Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino said.

“To have scored over 100 goals is a remarkable achievement, and

one which he has made possible thanks to hard work and

dedication.

“In my time at the club I have been impressed by his mentality

and commitment to improving himself in training – attributes that

have allowed him to adapt to the Premier League so well.

“I am delighted that Rickie has committed himself to the club

for a further three years, and have no doubts that he will continue

to deliver for Southampton as we look to push on to the next

level.”