Wednesday 13 November 2019

Adam Lallana believes Luke Shaw is as good as £80m Gareth Bale

Luke Shaw has been a revelation for Southampton this term
Luke Shaw has been a revelation for Southampton this term

Sam Wallace

The England midfielder Adam Lallana said on Monday that his Southampton team-mate Luke Shaw compares favourably with the world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale and the other best young players to have come through the club’s prodigious academy system.

Shaw, 18, trained with the England senior team for the first time on Monday, one of three left-backs in the squad, and was invited to take a full part in the Nike photo-shoot for the new all-white England World Cup kit that took place in the afternoon at the team’s hotel in Hertfordshire. It is anticipated that Hodgson will give him his debut against Denmark in the friendly at Wembley on Wednesday.

Lallana played with Bale and Theo Walcott at Southampton, although both left the club before they turned 18. One of four current Southampton players in the squad, Lallana said that Shaw would cope with the expectation that he could yet usurp Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines in the World Cup squad this summer.

Lallana said: “I knew how well he [Shaw] has been doing, playing with him every week. He’s got such a level head on his shoulders and is so grounded. He wouldn’t for one minute have thought he’d be involved in the senior team but he’s an outstanding talent and one of the best, probably the best player I’ve ever seen at 18.

“Gareth’s gone on and never looked back. I know Gareth did play left-back as well. There are similarities there, but I wouldn’t want to put too much pressure on Luke. He’s done unbelievably for us this season. When Gareth was playing with us we were in the Championship.”

Lallana said that the competition for a place in the squad was at the forefront of all the players’ minds. He said: “It’s a massive issue, it’s the pinnacle of a footballer’s career. Performing for your country in a World Cup tournament, there’s nothing bigger. That’s the feeling for every single England player. We all want to strive for greatness really. It starts this Wednesday, in terms of preparation.”

Shaw was not one of the designated players who spoke to the media, although he told the Football Association’s website that he hoped to get his chance against Denmark. “I have no eyes on the World Cup yet but we will see what happens at the end of the season. I am sure the four of us [Southampton players] will try to impress the manager on Wednesday and between now and the end of the season.

“Steven Gerrard had a little word with me after the game [against Liverpool on Saturday] and congratulated me and it is great for me, to have the England captain to be saying nice things.”

The 30-man England squad were measured up for their World Cup Marks & Spencer suits, as well as participating in the Nike photo-shoot. The sportswear manufacturer went to the extent of hiring a team of security guards to prevent journalists from gaining access to the temporary studio that was erected in the lobby of the team hotel. Fifa has told national associations that it prefers teams to wear one colour and, for the second consecutive World Cup finals, England will wear white shorts rather than the traditional navy blue.

Lallana also spoke for the first time about his part in Southampton’s complaint to the Premier League about the referee Mark Clattenburg. Under the leadership of former chairman Nicola Cortese the club demanded an investigation into Clattenburg’s remark to Lallana during the game away to Everton that he had “changed” since making his international debut in November.

“The club made the complaint, not me,” Lallana said. “Me and Mark are absolutely fine. He managed our game against West Ham, and I saw him when we exchanged the team-sheets before the game, and we’re absolutely fine.” He added that the incident was “blown out of proportion”.

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