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The Southampton attacking midfielder heads to the tournament in fine form - and offer from Liverpool - and could shine behind the strikers in Roy Hodgson's team this summer

Adam Lallana has enjoyed a quite stunning season. Named in England's World Cup squad, the Southampton playmaker has been the subject of a £25 million bid from Liverpool and is expected to feature heavily for the Three Lions in Brazil.

With Roy Hodgson set to lean on flair players more than ever before in South America, Lallana could prove to be something of a secret weapon, having never played in a major international tournament at senior level before. Goal takes a look at how he is shaping up ahead of this summer's finals.

SEASON 2013-14 ANALYSIS

Southampton enjoyed something of a renaissance under Mauricio Pochettino this season. Having finished 14th in 2012-13, the Argentine spent big in the summer – recruiting Dejan Lovren, Pablo Osvaldo and Victor Wanyama – and led the club to eighth before departing for Tottenham.

As captain, Lallana was central to Pochettino's plans and, as such, played in all 38 of the Saints' top-flight games, scoring nine goals and creating eight more. Moreover, he also notched an impressive 85 per cent passing accuracy overall and created 71 clear-cut chances for his team-mates, while winning 82% of his attempted tackles.


Such statistics make it little surprise that he is so highly rated by the Saints, who have placed a £30m valuation upon their star man. And they also show exactly why Liverpool are so keen to secure his signature, with Lallana nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award and named in the Team of the Year, alongside team-mate Luke Shaw, who beat off competition from Ashley Cole to also earn a spot on the plane.

Given his defensive abilities, Lallana offers more than your average playmaker and Pochettino was effusive in his praise of the star earlier this season, saying: "Of course he is a very talented player, a very special player. He is a player I really praise, I really like his characteristics as a player and hopefully he can be on that plane to Brazil because I think he fully deserves it, he fully deserves to be there." Few would argue with the Argentine.

PREVIOUS TOURNAMENT EXPERIENCE

Lallana has not played a single second of international tournament football. Despite featuring for England at Under-18s, Under-19s and Under-21s level he has never headed to a major competition, making just one appearance for each, against Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic, respectively.

However, he now has four senior caps to his name, though he has tasted defeat as often as victory, having featured in losses to Chile and Germany as well as victories over Denmark and Peru.

With Hodgson picking a number of youngsters, though, Lallana's relative lack of international experience should matter little, with his talent hardly in doubt.

LIKELY ROLE IN THE SQUAD

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Given his stunning season, it is perhaps little surprise that many are calling for Lallana to start in Manaus against Italy. With Wayne Rooney enduring a turbulent season at club level, coupled with his torrid record at previous World Cups, it is a valid argument that it should be Lallana who is deployed in the No.10 role behind Daniel Sturridge.

With his pace and direct running, Lallana has the ability to drift between the lines and make space for himself, even when faced with defences who are content to sit deep, which could prove vital in the final group game against minnows Costa Rica.

More likely, should Rooney start, is that Lallana will be pushed to the wing, where he will look to drift inside. His crossing success, 20% from 132 attempted, is about right for a wideman and his guile and balance on the ball should allow him to have an impact even if played on the left.

Following a 73-minute appearance against Peru, on the wing, he told the press: "Obviously, getting in the starting line-up for the first game in Manaus is what everyone's striving for and hopefully I've done enough to impress the manager and show him what I'm capable of."

With Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also vying to start, Hodgson is faced with a happy tactical headache.



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