Saints in the mix for World Cup trip
Southampton’s fabulous start to the Premier League season has been acknowledged by Roy Hodgson, who has included three Saints’ stars in the 28-strong squad to face Chile and Germany in friendlies later this month.
Ricky Lambert’s place among the six forwards is no surprise. The big striker made an instant impact in an England shirt when called up last month and is 9/4 with Coral to make Hodgson’s final World Cup 23.
Adam Lallana’s name on the list shouldn’t be a shock, either. This talented attacking midfielder has been selected for the senior squad once before and is in such good form for his club right now that he would have been hard to ignore.
Coral have reacted by clipping Lallana’s odds to be on the plane to Brazil from 20/1 to 8/1 and that price will contract further, of course, if he’s given a chance at Wembley and shines.
But the Hodgson choice that not many would have seen coming is wide-man Jay Rodriquez (10/1 to make the final squad), viewed by the England management as ideal cover for Danny Welbeck.
Most of the World Cup squad, perhaps all but half a dozen or so, are probably set in stone already and if we had to pick the eleven for the opening game of the tournament right now, there would most likely be universal agreement on eight or nine players.
But it’s those on the fringe that are interesting. Hodgson has resisted selecting promising youngsters like Ravel Morrison (5/1), Raheem Sterling (6/1), Saido Berahino (10/1) and another Saint, Luke Shaw (12/1), on this occasion, preferring to let them further their education at under-21 level, but there will be clamours for their inclusion if they continue to impress.
And there are several players the England boss couldn’t call upon this time because of injury who will certainly knocking on the door when they’re fit again.
Theo Walcott (1/5) looks a shoo-in to make the cut, while Ben Foster (at 4/9 a shorter price than either Fraser Forster or John Ruddy, both 4/6) will also most likely go as number two to Joe Hart, still very much number one in Hodgson’s eyes, despite his club woes.
Then there are forgotten men Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin (5/4), Andy Carroll (2/1) and Aaron Lennon (5/1) while, who knows, Wilfried Zaha (8/1), talked about as one of England’s most exciting new talents only last summer, may yet break into Man United’s first team and stake his World Cup claim.