Players to watch this weekend: Southampton’s England quartet 0

 

If I had my way, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Luke Shaw would all already have their passports stamped for Brazil; it may only be April, but all four of them have already done enough to show that they’re worthy of a place in England’s World Cup squad.

There’s always this lingering fear with England, though, and there’s always a risk of a foolish decision. Whether it’s like this in other countries I don’t know, but we seem particularly prone to rewarding reputation ahead of form.

It’s not a coincidence that we’ve be doing that all the way through the Premier League era, and our reputation in international tournaments across that period is less than impressive.

Adam Lallana is safe and is already on the plane, but Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Luke Shaw probably have a some work to do - which is staggering given Rodriguez’s goal-scoring form, Shaw’s obvious ability, and Lambert’s unique skill-set.

Southampton travel to Manchester City this weekend and that will offer those three a real opportunity to impress against top-class opposition and, in all likelihood, a watching Roy Hodgson. If there are any doubts about these players’ ability to make an impact in Brazil, then surely they would be alleviated by impressive showings against the country’s strongest side?

They shouldn’t have to prove themselves, because they’ve really already done it, but - as we all unfortunately know - players from mid-table sides have to do that little bit extra to convince.

Tomorrow gives them the chance to do that little bit extra.

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