Rare ambition makes Adam Lallana important to England 1

The temptation this morning is to overstate Adam Lallana’s importance to England, and to exaggerate how much of an impact he’s capable of having in Brazil.

England have spend the last however many decades searching for ‘the answer’ to a series of perpetual questions, and realistically the Southampton isn’t particularly relevant to any of them - but he is a breath of fresh air within the national team.

He has a lovely first-touch, an eclectic range of skill, and he carries a goal-threat - those are his obvious qualities. His more subtle value, though, lies in his mentality: he is not afraid to be adventurous on the pitch, even when he’s wearing an England shirt.

We’ve seen this for years: inhibited performances from players whose shoulders aren’t quite wide enough for the national shirt. We’ve moaned about club form failing to translate into the national team many times, and that’s because certain players are more concerned with ‘not failing’ for England than they are with actually having some influence. High-percentage passing, deferring responsibility for shooting, laying the ball off instead of taking a defender on - there are many symptoms.

Lallana isn’t infected with that disease though, and he seems more willing than most to play for England as he does for his Premier League side. He still drops his shoulder, he still Cruyff-turns out of tight corners, and he seems to be approaching his international career with a greater sense of ambition than most of his peers.

That’s what you want to see, really, because even if he isn’t the most talented player at Roy Hodgson’s disposal, his attitude probably makes him one of the most valuable members of the squad. Forget his positional diversity, here’s someone who is not afraid to fail in the pursuit of changing a game - England really don’t have enough of that type of player.

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