Why Southampton key man MUST start for England

Olly Dawes looks at Adam Lallana's superb season so far and why he can prove essential to England this coming summer.

It's now 2014 and the World Cup is subsequently drawing ever nearer, with England boss Roy Hodgson looking to finalise the plans for his squad.

With less than six months to go until the tournament gets underway in Brazil, a number of players will be hoping to hit top form and edge their way into Hodgson's thinking. Of course, the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart are almost guaranteed a spot on the plane to Brazil next summer, but players like Jordan Henderson, Kieran Gibbs, Jay Rodriguez and Gareth Barry will be hoping that Hodgson has noted their form this season.

One player who has broken into the setup in recent times is Adam Lallana of Southampton. The 25 year old has been the star turn for Mauricio Pochettino's Saints side this season, and his dazzling displays on the South Coast rightfully earned him his first England cap in the 2-0 defeat to Chile in November.

Whilst that particular night at Wembley was a disappointing one for all connected to the Three Lions, Lallana impressed and should now be a mainstay of the squad. However, should the midfielder be given a starting role in Brazil next summer?

For so long now, fans and pundits alike have been calling for a different type of player in the England setup. Gone are the days of wanting sheer guts and determination, no, the mould has changed from Terry Butcher's gargantuan effort whilst drowning in his own blood to the more sophisticated style of football that we see from Barcelona. A player who can create and dribble with the ball and exude confidence in possession in the final third.

Of course, Roy Hodgson's tactical approach somewhat restricts that freedom, but Lallana is the only English player around that fits that mould. He demonstrated all those attributes in one moment of magic against Hull City this season, weaving his way through the Tigers' defence before calmly slotting home.

Yet, there's seemingly still an apprehension attached to Lallana – or Rodriguez and Lambert, other Saints stars breaking into the England side – featuring at the World Cup. It must simply stem from playing for Southampton, a team who two years ago were playing in the Championship, rather than an established “big side” such as Manchester United, Tottenham or Manchester City. The fact of the matter is that Lallana has clearly outshone players like Ashley Young, James Milner and even the flavour of October, Andros Townsend.

England have used players such as Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Theo Walcott in recent tournaments, yet, for the most part, they only offer one thing – pace. Their decision making and quality in the final third continually hamstrung England at crucial moments, and now it's time to give someone like Lallana – somebody full of guile and flair – a chance to help Hodgson's men challenge the bigger nations in Brazil.

image: © geetarchurchy

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