Roy Hodgson makes one last trip to St Mary's this season - and sees impressive performances from Saints' three World Cup hopefuls (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Roy Hodgson makes one last trip to St Mary's this season - and sees impressive performances from Saints' three World Cup hopefuls
Roy Hodgson used the final day of the season to make one last trip to St Mary’s – and he will have seen nothing here to discourage him from loading his England squad with Saints players.
The national team manager tomorrow names his group for this summer’s World Cup, in Brazil, with a number of players from the club in contention.
Rickie Lambert again underlined his case for inclusion with a strong performance and an emphatic finish to open the scoring in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
With his main rival, Andy Carroll, having toiled away to no avail as West Ham lost at Manchester City, the prospects look excellent for the Saints striker to complete his fairytale story with a place in Hodgson’s squad.
There is, of course, no doubt about whether Adam Lallana will be included.
The Saints captain was a menacing presence here, particularly in the first half, as the home side dominated.
He departed the field in the 69th minute, being substituted for James Ward-Prowse.
It was a moment that signalled the end of his club season, but there is undoubtedly still football left to be played by him this summer.
Whether or not we see him feature for this team again remains to be seen, but, if he does leave St Mary’s in the coming weeks, he will do so on the back of one of the finest individual campaigns from a Saints player in recent memory.
The standing ovation he received when he departed was certainly richly deserved, and Saints fans will hope they have the opportunity to afford him many more in the future.
Hodgson, who has practically had a season ticket at St Mary’s this term, was perhaps particularly keen to cast one final eye over Luke Shaw, as he weighs up whether to take him or Ashley Cole to Brazil.
Like Lambert, the signs seem positive, although the youngster will not be taking anything for granted.
However, another impressive display here – both defensively and in attack – while have further assured Hodgson that, if he does take the 18-year-old, he will be an asset to the squad.
The England boss may also have been keen to make a late check on Nathaniel Clyne.
Hodgson is struggling for natural options at right-back and, with the fitness of Tottenham’s Kyle Walker increasingly uncertain, he may have to keep an untested option on standby.
Clyne would appear to be as good an option as anyone in that scenario, alongside Liverpool’s Jon Flanagan perhaps.
One thing is for certain – tomorrow’s squad announcement will be an exciting and fascinating occasion for everyone associated with Saints.
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