You can’t fail to have been impressed with Southampton this season (apart from the fact their manager still won’t conduct a post or pre-match interview in English!) and for me their stand-out performer, consistently, has been Adam Lallana.
Never more so than at the weekend when he celebrated his call-up to the England squad – in front of the England manager too – with a man of the match performance and a super solo goal which had me thinking....he is Aaron Ramsey in a Saints’ shirt.
The grace, style, power, balance, skill and composure when it counted was reminiscent of Ramsey in his pomp, as the Arsenal midfielder has been since day one of an incredible season. And Lallana isn’t far behind on the basis of his performance in the 4-1 win against Hull.
Lallana has stuck with Saints through thick and thin since his Academy days and I’m delighted that, at the age of 25, he’s getting his rewards for loyalty, persistence and dedication. He has been in outstanding form this season and revelling in the role of captain.
I look forward to see him in an England shirt and enhancing his reputation as one of the top goalscoring midfielders in the Premier League – and putting himself firmly in the frame for PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for November.
Lallana joins England debut hero Rickie Lambert and fellow new boy Jay Rodriguez in the national squad for the two friendlies against Chile and Germany, and it is a fitting tribute to one of the so-called ‘lesser clubs’ who, in the words of Roy Hodgson, has ‘taken the Premier League by storm’.
The Three Lions boss has also revealed in the last week that he’s got half an eye on Southampton full back Nathanial Clyne whilst continuing to monitor the England Under 21 progress of James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw.
The Super Saints of 2014 could well replicate the West Ham class of 1966 when Moore, Hurst and Peters inspired England’s only World Cup success to date. And current boss Hodgson couldn’t be more grateful to Southampton for nurturing and keeping faith in homegrown talent.
Saints are a rare exception to the modern breed of top clubs so reliant on foreign imports, and Hodgson says: “Southampton at the moment are becoming a very good club as far as England are concerned in terms of providing players."
Few better than current man of the moment Lallana who was recently tipped by another Saints’ legend Matt Le Tissier to gatecrash the World Cup party. "He is different to most other players in the squad and may be the one who is a dark horse to make the squad for Brazil."
* Fact for anoraks: Saints last had three players in an England squad in January 1986, when Peter Shilton, Danny Wallace and Mark Wright were in the team that beat Egypt 4-0.