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Lallana a cert for Rio but all four Southampton stars must go

| 09.03.2014

Under Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton have been the league’s loveable side. Challenging the top-four in the early part of the campaign, the Saints have captured the hearts of many a neutral with their youthful setup.

At the heart of their success lies four players with designs on England’s World Cup squad come the summer, the club skipper Adam Lallana, new kid on the left-back block Luke Shaw, Jay Rodriguez and veteran Rickie Lambert.

In the recent England friendly against Denmark all four were called up by Roy Hodgson in a 30-man squad.

Luke Shaw’s inclusion for the first time gave a real indication that Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole haven’t got the left full-back role under lock and key, while Lallana’s performance off the bench in that match only strengthened his case to start England’s first game against Italy.

With the market on which players will make the final cut for the tournament a now well-trodden path, Ladbrokes have thrown a new ball into the pen.

It’s now possible to back designated groups of players to take their seat on the South American-bound plane, and the Saints quartet are a deliciously priced 40/1 to represent the south coast in Samba-ville.

With Lallana an individual lock at 4/11 to go and Shaw looking like the latest teenager to make a major tournament squad, it seems the bet hinges on Rodriguez and Lambert, who both failed to leave the bench at Wembley.

The play of Lambert in recent matches puts him ahead of Andy Carroll in the “big-man up top” pecking order, having scored 11 times for club and country this season.

However, Rodriguez is only an outside shot (5/1) to make Brazil, such is the quantity and quality of wide men bidding to make it.

More match-winning performances like the one he turned in against Crystal Palace, where he scored the game’s only goal, will enhance the chances of there being four Saints in Brazil.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.