A few weeks ago, we published an article on the influential displays of the young English talent in the Premier League‘s surprise package of the season, Southampton FC.
It appears that somebody was listening, somebody pretty influential when it comes to English football. The England national team manager Roy Hodgson has called upon Saints’ attacking stars Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez when England hosts Chile and Germany in friendlies at Wembley Stadium on Nov. 15 and 19 respectively. While Lallana and Rodriguez are not your typical English names or your typical English football mantra, both are flourishing under the new Pochettino-era on the south coast, and are now being given the platform to elevate their careers to another level.
It is a first full international call-up for striker Rodriguez, as he joins fellow striker Rickie Lambert and Lallana to make it the first time Southampton has has three representatives in the English national squad in living memory. Lambert has enjoyed an impressive start to his belated international career; after ascending through all four professional divisions in the English game, he headed the winner in a fairytale debut against Scotland before adding his first senior international goal three weeks later in a 4-0 victory over Moldova.
Southampton has earned nationwide admiration for their stylish approach to games under manager Mauricio Pochettino; the Saints have lost just once in their opening 10 EPL games this season and are currently sixth in the table. The Saints have the best defensive record in the entire league this season, having conceded just one goal at home and four in total. The plaudits continue for Pochettino’s men, who are unbeaten in their last seven top flight matches — a run that includes a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, a stylish 2-0 victory over Swansea City, and a 1-0 win that handed the then-league-leaders Liverpool their first defeat of the campaign.
Rodriguez and Lallana have been key components in the Saints’ success this season, and along with Lambert, have had a hand in the last six goals that the team have registered in the top flight. Rodriguez leads the way with four goals this season, whilst Lallana has contributed two goals, two assists, and a boatload of ingenuity operating from multiple positions across the midfield.
The recent call-ups make a refreshing change for the English national team, whose selection process for so long has seen a regular core of players picked on the strength of their name rather than their performances. The upcoming internationals may be considered as ‘only friendlies,’ however, as the likes of Lambert and Andros Townsend have proven in recent months, regular high levels of performance will not be ignored.
In truth, there could, and possibly should, have been more Southampton personnel fighting for a chance to represent their country in a week’s time. Defenders Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne have been integral parts of that league-leading defense after some stellar performances at the full-back position this season. There are many arguments in favor of their selection ahead of Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones — both of whom have contributed towards a rearguard that has shipped over three times as many goals as the Saints this season — though it would appear that their lofty status as United employees has seen them through on a status quo selection basis.
There is a plane departing Heathrow airport heading for Rio De Janeiro in June next year. Southampton’s impressive English core has 28 more EPL games to book their seats on it.