Adam Lallana Offers Roy Hodgson & England Something They Don't Have

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2014

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Adam Lallana of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Stoke City at St Mary's Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Going on his selections in the latter qualifying games, Roy Hodgson's favoured selection for the attacking position on England's left-hand side is Danny Welbeck.

Welbeck is a fine player who has much to commend him. He works hard, offers a goal threat and balances the pace of whoever plays on the right, which based on current form should probably be Raheem Sterling. He also offers a degree of tactical flexibility, allowing Hodgson to play a genuine three-man attack should the necessity arise.

However, for all his many qualities, what Welbeck doesn't offer is a huge amount of skill or invention. Indeed, the England team as a whole doesn't have a massive amount of flair, even if Jack Wilshere plays alongside Steven Gerrard in midfield, which given Jordan Henderson's form for Liverpool, is not a given.
There are precious few in-form, imaginative players in England, but one of them is in Hodgson's latest squad for the friendly against Denmark this week.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

Adam Lallana has been at Southampton from the age of 12, accompanying them throughout the divisions as they won promotion from League One to the Championship and into the Premier League. And he has grown at every turn, just as Southampton have, proving his worth with every step up through the divisions.

This season in particular his form has been superb, and was rewarded with a call-up to the England squad for the friendlies against Chile and Germany in November.

Hodgson was clearly impressed with his performances in those games, saying when asked by The Daily Telegraph whether he had a chance of making the World Cup squad:

Yes he has, there is no doubt about that. He was very good. I was very happy with his two performances. He has shown he is comfortable on this stage and has a lot of skill. He’s been a major find.

Given his form in the interim, unless something extraordinary happens between now and the end of the season, Lallana will be on the plane to Brazil, but will he start England's first game against Italy?
His manager at Southampton certainly seems to think so. Mauricio Pochettino was quoted in The Guardian as saying:

You can see he is one of the most talented players in England. He is very special and hopefully he can go to Brazil because he fully deserves it.
In my opinion, if Lallana had Brazilian nationality or Spanish nationality, if he were another [Juan] Mata or Oscar, he would be going with their national side. I truly believe that.

High praise indeed. Lallana offers something different for England, pace combined with trickery and an intelligence to his passing that could bring great balance to Hodgson's side, as well as a threat they don't really have elsewhere.
He might not quite be Juan Mata or Oscar, but at the very least he offers an interesting different option, and should be given his chance.