Off to Brazil? Which Southampton Players Will Play in World Cup 2014?
While it's not possible for the entire team to play in the World Cup this summer, there are 11 Southampton players that could make a compelling case for a plane ticket to Brazil this summer. Not all of them will make it, but here's a breakdown of each of their chances.
Gaston Ramirez, Uruguay
Gaston Ramirez has been a man in the wilderness for most of the season at Southampton. But the Uruguayan had found his way into a number of substitute appearances before suffering an ankle injury against Sunderland that looks to keep him out for about two months.
Even when Ramirez was struggling for playing time, that didn't effect his status on Uruguay's national team. The 23-year-old appeared in eight qualifying matches in 2013, including both legs of Uruguay's play-off round victory over Jordan. Ramirez also played in two matches in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
As long as Ramirez recovers from the injury, it seems like his spot on the roster isn't in much danger. National team coach Oscar Tabarez doesn't make many changes to the roster—only 34 players have played for Uruguay in the past 12 months.
Off to Brazil?: Likely
Maya Yoshida, Japan
Another player who hasn't seen much action for Southampton but could still make his way to Brazil is Maya Yoshida.
Yoshida lost his starting place to Dejan Lovren at the beginning of the season. With the Croatian out with an ankle injury, Yoshida has taken advantage of his chance to play. The Japanese international has averaged 2.8 interceptions per match according to WhoScored, which would rank in the top 10 of the Premier League if Yoshida played more.
With Asian qualifying wrapping up so early, Yoshida only played in two qualifiers in 2013. But Yoshida did play in all three matches that Japan played in the Confederations Cup. With 37 caps, the 25-year-old is very much a regular.
Off to Brazil?: Very Likely
Morgan Schneiderlin, France
Given his play over the past two seasons in the Premier League, many Premier League fans wonder why Morgan Schneiderlin has yet to earn a call-up into the French national team.
Schneiderlin currently ranks second in the Premier League in tackles per match with 3.9, according to WhoScored. Noted as a defensive stopper, the 24-year-old also boasts a pass completion rate of 88.6 percent and averages one key pass per match.
While Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri are automatic inclusions in the France squad, Schneiderlin compares favorably to other French midfielders that are currently in the French team. Blaise Matuidi, Moussa Sissoko, Etienne Capoue, Maxime Gonalons, Josuha Guilavogui and Geoffrey Kondogbia have all earned calls as central or defensive midfielders, while Schneiderlin has been made to wait.
Off to Brazil?: Unlikely
Dejan Lovren, Croatia
Dejan Lovren has been one of the best buys of the season, coming from Lyon for an estimated £8.8 million over the summer. The center back is the 16th highest-rated player in the Premier League this season according to WhoScored. His 7.41 average rating is second only to Martin Skrtel among center backs.
Lovren played in six World Cup qualifiers in 2013, including one leg of Croatia's World Cup playoff victory over Iceland in November.
Assuming that Lovren recovers from his current ankle injury, Croatia manager Niko Kovac will most certainly include the 24-year-old in his squad for Brazil.
Off to Brazil?: Lock
Jose Fonte, Portugal
With all the hype about Dejan Lovren's performances, his center-back partner is often overlooked.
Jose Fonte has elevated his game this season, playing in 21 of Southampton's 24 Premier League matches. His 7.32 WhoScored rating places him at 29th among Premier League players.
Fonte is very good in the air, winning 53 of 86 aerial duels this season. That prowess makes him a threat on set pieces, as shown by his two goals scored.
Unfortunately for Fonte, his age and the depth of the Portugal squad hurt his chances. The 30-year-old has never been capped by Portugal. With Pepe, Bruno Alves and Rodrigo Costa all established veterans at center back in the squad, Fonte would be a fringe player at best.
Off to Brazil?: Very Unlikely
Calum Chambers/Nathaniel Clyne, England
Both Southampton right-backs have performed well enough to make a case they deserve to be included in the England squad for World Cup 2014.
However, Calum Chambers and Nathaniel Clyne have played so equally that neither can take control of the position in Mauricio Pochettino's plans. Each player has started 12 matches for the Saints.
But until one of them takes charge at right-back, neither will catch Roy Hodgson's attention.
Off to Brazil?: No Chance
Rickie Lambert, England
The 31-year-old has seen his goal-scoring record go down a bit, only tallying seven goals this season. But the veteran has turned into more of a playmaker, as his seven assists, which ranks third in the Premier League, show.
Lambert's odds of making the team somewhat depend on how Hodgson wants to line up. Of the England strikers, the Liverpool native is arguably the best at playing in a target role. Lambert can win the ball and distribute to the likes of Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, making runs off of the target man.
But if the England manager doesn't want to use a true target man, Lambert's place may be stolen by his teammate at Southampton, Jay Rodriguez.
Off to Brazil?: 50/50
Jay Rodriguez, England
Although Jay Rodriguez struggled a bit in his international debut for England, the 24-year-old looks to be earning another chance with the national team.
The Burnley native is versatile enough to play either wide in a 4-5-1/4-3-3 setup, or play centrally up top or behind a main striker. Rodriguez may have trouble starting with Rooney and Sturridge ahead of him, but he would bring plenty of quickness and work rate off the bench.
Off to Brazil? Likely
Luke Shaw, England
Luke Shaw poses an interesting dilemma for Roy Hodgson.
Normally, an 18-year-old playing at a World Cup for a country with such depth as England seems a bit outlandish. Questions about whether the player can handle the pressure and whether a bad performance will scar the player are bound to be thrown around.
But rarely is an 18-year-old an unquestioned starter for a team in the top half of the Premier League, with a rumored price tag of at least £20 million, as per Jeremy Wilson and Jason Burt of the Telegraph.
With Ashley Cole struggling to get playing time at Chelsea, Hodgson has to decide between the veteran or the hot newcomer for the second spot at left-back behind Leighton Baines. Shaw has yet to be capped at the senior level for England, so Cole probably has the edge as long as he is healthy.
Off to Brazil?: Unlikely
Adam Lallana, England
At the start of the season, Adam Lallana was trying to earn his first cap for England. Now it seems impossible to imagine an England squad without him.
Lallana's versatility and creativity with the ball make him a must for England. The 25-year-old can play on either wing, or play as an attacking central midfielder. His five assists show the ability to set up teammates, while being able to create for himself with 1.9 successful dribbles per game, according to WhoScored. The St. Albans native can finish as well with seven goals to his credit.
Lallana also brings a tenacity to the game when his team doesn't have possession. He is constantly harassing opponents and averages 1.7 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per match.
Despite only having two caps, Lallana is a must inclusion for Roy Hodgson.
Off to Brazil?: Lock