Sunday 22 October 2017

Lallana shows kind of flair Hodgson will need in Brazil

Southampton 4 Hull City 1

Tom Prentki

As Rickie Lambert smashed home his 33rd successful penalty for Southampton, adoring fans serenaded the striker with chants of "he's off to Brazil".

He may well be but it was Adam Lallana, more than Lambert, that the watching Roy Hodgson may wish to add to his party bound for the World Cup in South America next summer.

The Saints captain turned in a display of such élan that Hodgson appeared like the proverbial Cheshire cat, smiling in television pictures as Lallana left the field to a rousing reception from the St Mary's congregation.

"It is every kid's dream to play in the World Cup," said 25-year-old Lallana. "It is the pinnacle so it would be silly to say anything else really."

Like Lambert, what is so refreshing about the academy product is the route he has taken to the England squad. While Lallana has never had to supplement his wages by working in a beetroot factory like his Liverpudlian team-mate, he was present as Southampton plummeted to the third tier, bankrupt and minus 10 points.

FREEDOM

Hull manager Steve Bruce, then at Sunderland, admitted that he tried to sign Lallana at that point but revealed that "the boy wanted to stay put" – unlike Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gareth Bale.

Lallana believes he made the right decision. "I'm playing with freedom, confidence – it's a nice place to be as a player," the Bournemouth-born forward said. "You've just got to keep working hard and trying to get better."

Lallana took star billing as Southampton swept Hull aside with little obstruction.

Lambert and another Saint in the England squad, Jay Rodriguez, also impressed, but there was little to separate them from similarly eye-catching performances by fellow Englishmen Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and, in particular, Nathaniel Clyne.

Lallana said: "It's nice when the England manager's watching, and I think he'll be impressed with a lot of the Southampton players."

Southampton were set on their way by French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who headed them into a deserved 16th-minute lead.

Last season's club player of the season remains uncapped by Les Bleus, something which baffles his manager.

"It does surprise me because he has amazing quality, I am 100pc sure that it will happen," Pochettino said before joking: "The only thing I would say to the French Federation is that they must be careful because he might be able to play for England." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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