ADAM Lallana may not get many good luck messages from Hartlepool ahead of Saturday’s World Cup opener.
The Southampton star was yesterday asked to look back on the meteoric rise of himself, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rickie Lambert who, three years ago, were all playing in League One with the Saints.
That trio are part of Roy Hodgson’s 23-man World Cup squad and trained in Brazil for the first time yesterday, with the backdrop of Sugar Loaf Mountain at their Urca training base.
“I was saying to one of the lads when we went out there that I can’t think of many better places to train and prepare for a World Cup,” he told the media.
“It’s exciting and it’s hot, but it’s something we’ve been getting used to. Training in these conditions and the scenery there, the backdrop, it’s lovely.”
Reporters could not resist falling into the tired journalism of comparing a cold February trip to Victoria Park to the heat in Rio.
And Lallana failed to stop himself of falling into the trap in his answer.
“That was probably one of the [worst places I’ve played],” he said. “It is great to kind of meet up again with Chambo and be here with Rickie.
“It is great when you talk of the journey we’ve been on and what a remarkable achievement it is.
“We’re just enjoying it – well, I certainly am and I know Rickie is as well. I’m just going to keep enjoying it and take it in our stride.”
For the record, despite his presence along with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lambert, the Saints failed to score at Pools, leaving town with a 0-0 draw.
Lallana is now pushing for a starting role in the Group D opener against Italy – two years after watching England get knocked out by them at Euro 2012 from his sofa.
“I want to play, keep working hard in training and doing all I can to force myself in to the first 11,” he said. “I know what my job is. The better I play the more chance I have to stay in the team or if not then to make a contribution from the bench.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I am just going to keep focusing on training hard and doing as much as I can to impress the manager.
“Three years ago I was playing in League One so just to be here at a World Cup is a massive achievement and anything else is a bonus.”