Southampton have entertained pretty much everyone this season, with their free flowing attacking football. They have a lot of young English talent and in my opinion there are three Saints players that Roy Hodgson has got to consider taking to the World Cup with him.
1) Adam Lallana
Surely this is no debate? The 26 year old has been in sparkling form all season and is one of the main reasons why Southampton have been so brilliant. There has been an awful lot of speculation about a possible £20 million move to Liverpool. I’m happy with that, as long as he gets game time at Anfield. I don’t want it to be one of these transfers where he’s on the bench every week because that will not help his development as a footballer. However, based on evidence this season i.e Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling being regular starters, I don’t think Liverpool would allow that to happen. Either way, whichever club he is playing for next season, he is one of my first names on the 23 man World Cup squad, and I pray to God that Roy Hodgson sees it that way too.
I am a massive fan of Rickie Lambert. I think he is brilliant. He causes havoc for defenders, is a massive threat in the air, a clinical finisher, and, guess what, he can take penalties! 34 career penalties, 34 scored. That is impressive, and knowing how useless England are at penalties, Lambert is a no-brainer for me. Some people want Andy Carroll at the World Cup this year – not for me. He has been injured for far too long to be considered. Rickie Lambert to join Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge amongst England’s four strikers.
This one is going to be controversial – but I honestly believe Nathaniel Clyne is one of the best right backs in the Premier League. England haven’t actually got many choices at right back. Glen Johnson is decent in my opinion, but far too mistake-prone. For example, against Crystal Palace on Monday night, he looked very lazy for some of Palace’s goals. I still think we should take Johnson to the World Cup but only as cover for Clyne. Also, I’m not a big fan of Kyle Walker and I’d be surprised if he made the 23 man squad. I watched Clyne in great detail when the Saints beat Everton 2-0 last month. He is good defensively, excellent going forward and works really hard for the team. For me, he would be a wise choice for the squad. People will disagree with this one – and that’s no surprise but I really rate Clyne and I’d love to see him in an England shirt next month.
I would have had Jay Rodriguez in the squad but unfortunately he is injured and will miss the world cup – which is a real shame.
‘Where’s Luke Shaw?’ – I hear you all shout. Listen, I like Shaw a lot and he has been excellent for Southampton, but I believe we have two better left backs – Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines. No doubt Shaw will become an England regular in the years to come, but not for me this time. Although I won’t exactly be devastated if Roy does take him, I just think taking an 18 year old with one cap to the World Cup is a bit too far at this moment in time.
My full 23 man World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Ben Foster, John Ruddy
Defenders: Glen Johnson, Nathaniel Clyne, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Michael Dawson, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole
Midfielders: Adam Lallana, Andros Townsend, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling
Strikers: Wayne Rooney, Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge