Rickie Lambert has explained why he cut short his holiday to begin pre-season training as he plans to hit the ground running at Liverpool.

The striker reported to Melwood one week earlier than he was required to, following his trip to Brazil as part of England's World Cup squad.

Lambert is determined to ensure he is in peak physical condition ahead of the Reds' first game of the season on August 17, which is against his former club Southampton.

Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com at the club's training complex, he said: "Probably for the first time in my career I've been looking forward to pre-season - and it's not bad for a 32-year-old to be saying that!

"I was itching to get back, be with the lads and play football. It's good. It's my second day and I'm enjoying it. It's hard, but I'm feeling good.

"This [early start] is what I have to do now; it's no longer a choice for me, really. I know my body and know what I've got to do, to get into the same shape as everybody else and it tends to be that I need to do a little bit more.

"It was always my intention to come back earlier, whether I was at Southampton or Liverpool - but obviously I am desperate to hit the ground running and do well for Liverpool.

"I thought it was massively important I come back early, and make sure I'm in the best shape possible for when the season kicks off, because that's what all this is for."

Watch the video here »

Lambert was Brendan Rodgers' first signing of the summer when he joined his boyhood club at the end of May.

His joy was clear when he put pen to paper on the contract he's fantasised about since his days of supporting Liverpool as a child.

So, several weeks on, has he began to come to terms with realising a dream?

"I have," he replied. "Obviously it's a dream, but I do believe I should be here and there are things I want to prove.

"It's all about gearing up for the first game of the season, but I'll have a full week of training here at Melwood and then I'm looking forward to the trip to America. What can I say?

"It's a lifestyle every boy dreams of - and it's at Liverpool. It's common sense that I was always going to back early - that was my intention."

Away from the pitch, Lambert has confirmed both he and his family are happily adjusting to life back on Merseyside following several years down south.

He said: "I'm settling in very well. Ray and Jane [Liverpool FC player liaison officers] along with the lads have made me feel very welcome. I'm obviously a local lad, but I haven't been here for a few years.

"Just getting my wife and kids settled in such a short space of time - I have to give full credit to everyone involved. A big thank-you goes out to them. Getting my family settled and getting myself settled is the most important thing.

"It's all in place now, so I can relax and concentrate on my football."