ROY Hodgson is today expected to name three Saints stars in his 23-man squad for the World Cup.
Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw will all discover today if they have been chosen by Roy Hodgson for the trip to Brazil.
Saints president Terry Paine believes all three deserve a place, while he reckons uncapped right-back Nathaniel Clyne might even have an outside chance of earning a standby position.
The club’s all-time record appearance holder says that, if he was in Hodgson’s shoes today, he would be naming a young squad that could offer some vibrancy in South America, while also gaining some valuable experience for the future.
Paine said: “At times, you have to look at the bigger picture and say ‘Where are we going to be down the road.’ “Players like Shaw, Barkley, Sterling, Lallana, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain will be likely to represent the country for the next five or six years at least.”
Paine, who would leave Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick out of his 23, added: “There will be very difficult playing conditions in Brazil, where stamina is going to be very important.
“The energy factor won’t do it alone, but these are young players who have been outstanding for their clubs and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t do the same for their country.
“That added energy will be a plus factor out there.”
Paine, part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad, is confident all three of Saints’ main contenders will make it in, believing that Lallana is the biggest certainty of all.
“He’s had an outstanding season and he’s really caught the imagination,” he said.
“He’s pretty adaptable in terms of where he can play as well – he’s not a one-position player.
“He’s got a lovely touch, he’s a good carrier of the ball, he can provide, and he can finish.”
Paine also believes teenage left-back Shaw’s performances this term mean he deserves a place ahead of Chelsea’s Cole on merit.
“With what Shaw has done over the season,he thoroughly deserves to be there, alongside Leighton Baines,” he said.
“I also thought we had a very good comparison between those two when Everton came to St Mary’s a few weeks ago.
“The better footballer of the two, for me, was Shaw.
“He has shown tremendous consistency this season, and what a great opportunity it would be to give him that experience of a World Cup.”
The other person who will be nervously waiting for a call from Hodgson this morning is Lambert.
Paine hopes the striker has nothing to worry about, though.
He said: “What’s the alternative? Andy Carroll?
“If what Roy Hodgson said is true, about people not being able to have an impact on his decisions purely on their form over the last few weeks, then I’m pretty convinced he’s already made up his mind.
“Although Carroll has been thrust into the limelight a bit in the last month or so, Rickie has been doing it all season.
“The fact he threw on Rickie when he needed a goal against Scotland and he came up with the goods will always stick in his mind as well.”
Paine would also name 23-year-old right-back Clyne as one of seven standby players, believing he represents England’s top option behind Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker, who has been battling injury for the last two months.
“If Kyle Walker doesn’t play, then who knows? He’s as good an option as there is otherwise,” said Paine, who also thought Jay Rodriguez would have been chosen ahead of Danny Welbeck had he not been injured.
Whoever Hodgson picks, the Saints legend believes England will potentially be a threat going forward in Brazil, but will be worrying fragile at the back.
“We are lacking in the back four, particularly at centre back – there’s not a combination there that I’m completely happy with,” Paine said.
“But he can only pick Englishmen, and he’s got to go with what he’s got.
“Going forward, though, he is a lot stronger. There’s a creative feel going forward.”
On England’s prospects, Paine added: “We have a huge battle to qualify. We’ve got Uruguay and Italy, and Costa Rica are no pushovers. They’re capable.
“When you start the tournament, regardless of who you play, it’s vitally important that you don’t lose the first game.
“Even if you draw, you’ve got a point and you can plan a lot better.
“It’s certainly about time we won another one, though.”