May 10, 2018 / 12:26 PM / 4 months ago

Lallana looks to end troubled season with World Cup spot

LONDON (Reuters) - Adam Lallana will hope for at least a place on the bench in Liverpool’s final Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday as he looks to force his way into the reckoning for the Champions League final and England’s World Cup squad.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - International Friendly - England vs Italy - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - March 27, 2018 England's Adam Lallana in action with Italy's Mattia De Sciglio Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley/File Photo

The midfielder celebrated his 30th birthday on Thursday with a full training session, hoping that his injury-ravaged season has finally turned a corner at the most opportune time.

A year ago Lallana was considered pivotal at both club and international level, a player who led Juergen Klopp’s pressing game for Liverpool and provided England with their creative spark.

Yet a series of fitness issues have restricted him to just 13 appearances for his club this season and he lasted just five minutes into his latest comeback against Crystal Palace on March 31.

While Liverpool have coped well in his absence, England manager Gareth Southgate would desperately like to name a match-fit Lallana in his provisional World Cup squad next week, and will no doubt be scouring Klopp’s team sheet on Sunday to see if the former Southampton midfielder has at least made the bench.

“Maybe possible for Brighton for Adam, we have to see,” said Klopp ahead of the game.

Deciding whether to take a risk on a player with so few games under his belt this season is one of Southgate’s few remaining calls in an England squad not expected to hold many surprises.

EXPERIENCED KEEPER

At the back, the experienced keeper Joe Hart is no longer England’s number one but should provide back-up for Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Stoke’s Jack Butland, who are scrapping for the starting jersey.

Southgate is committed to playing three at the back in either a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation, with Leicester’s Harry Maguire and John Stones, who has been restricted to bit parts in Manchester City’s title-winning season, likely to provide the central defensive pillars.

If Southgate continues with his experiment of playing Kyle Walker alongside them then he may reinforce his wing-backs by calling up Liverpool’s exciting 19-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold. At left back, Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand has started more club games than any of his rivals.

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson is expected to be named England captain although the lack of an established playmaker is a worry, with Arsenal’s injury-prone Jack Wilshere struggling to make the final 23.

By contrast, Eric Dier’s reliability and versatility in defence and midfield make him a likely starter.

Striker Harry Kane has had another fine season for Tottenham, scoring his 28th Premier League goal against Newcastle United on Wednesday, and will lead England’s attack.

His clubmate Dele Alli and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling are also likely starters with Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford pushing for selection.

Fulham’s precocious 17-year-old Ryan Sessegnon heads a list of youngsters on the fringes, with RB Leipzig loanee Ademola Lookman and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho both outsiders for selection after impressive performances in the Bundesliga.

Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Toby Davis

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