Given Roy Hodgson’s proclivity for picking Liverpool players for his England squads, sometimes to the bemusement of the general public, it is likely that his presence at St Mary’s on Saturday was mostly down to a desire to check on the form of players like Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard rather than the home team.
However it was Southampton who impressed on the day, and their 3-1 victory was built on the back of an excellent English spine, with several players surely making their case for inclusion in the national team set up.
Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana perhaps stand out as the two most obvious candidates for an England place. At 31, some could say that Lambert has missed his chance for an international career, but looking at the squad that has been announced, you would be hard pushed to claim that he has less right to a place than Jermain Defoe, who has recently returned from injury and is yet to score in 2013.
Lallana has had some injury problems himself this year, but now looks to be getting back to his best, and at only 24 he surely has a future with the England set up.
Playing alongside these two are several excellent young players who should already be entering Hodgson’s thoughts. Jack Cork and Luke Shaw have both impressed throughout the season at Southampton, and Jay Rodriguez signaled his talent with his display against Liverpool, even if he does need to find a little more consistency.
A frequent criticism of the international set up is that players from the bigger sides in the Premier League are picked based on reputation when those in other sides are in better form. Southampton have had an up and down season, and might still be relegated from the Premier League, but they have plenty of individuals worth considering for international duty, especially when their counterparts at the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur seem to be assured of a place regardless of recent form.
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