Adam Lallana believes the achievements of Swansea City last season are something that Saints should aspire to.
The Welsh side, who visit St Mary’s tomorrow, finished in the top half of the Premier League in 2012/13 and also won the Capital One Cup.
Saints’ strong start to the campaign – they head into the weekend in sixth position – has generated further belief that they could mount a similarly successful charge this term.
Lallana said: “They’ve had a great, great few years. They won the (League) Cup last year and they play great football, and the style of play is quite similar to us. They’re definitely a team that we should aspire to, and it’s credit to the players they’ve got there, and Laudrup’s doing a great job.”
Lallana is expecting a tough test tomorrow, but he believes Saints could possibly take advantage of the fact Swansea are coming off a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to St Gallen in the Europa League on Thursday.
“I think so, but we won’t underestimate them,” said the Saints captain. “They’ve got a good squad and I’m sure they’re capable of rotating a number of players. Whether they do or not I’m not too sure, but it’s a game we’re confident of winning.”
Lallana is particularly wary of the threat that could be posed by his former teammate and academy colleague, Nathan Dyer.
“He’s a great player and I grew up playing with him in the youth team and reserves,” said Lallana. “It was disappointing to see him leave, but he went on and played at a higher level.
“He’s doing ever so well for Swansea, he scored a couple of weeks ago and he scored down here last season. It always seems to happen against your old club, so we’ve got to keep an extra eye on him, because he’s a very talented player.”
While Saints will need to pay attention to their former winger, Lallana believes there is plenty for Swansea to worry about as well, with Saints having crafted what he rates as an outstanding squad of players.
“I think we’ve got the perfect blend,” he said. “We’ve made shrewd additions, we’ve still got a good group of players that have been here since the League 1 days that know the club and it’s just a great working environment with the blend we’ve got, so it’s working really well.
“We’ve all had a good pre-season and we’ve started to play with each other now for a little while and we’re starting to find out different aspects of each other’s games and I think that’s going to grow as the season goes on.”
Lallana was delighted to see Rickie Lambert again selected for England this week, and he revealed he has not given up on his own hopes of forcing his way into the World Cup reckoning, should Roy Hodgson’s men secure a place in Brazil.
“There’s always a chance, if I’m playing regularly for my club and playing well then you never know,” he said. “Hodgson’s not scared to pick the younger players – Barkley, Cleverley, Sterling – he gives everyone a chance, and obviously big Rickie, who’s done ever so well and got the goals for England and helped them in the last couple of internationals.
“It’s great to be working with him day in and day out, it gives you all the motivation you need to aspire to what he’s doing.”
Lallana also spoke glowingly of Saints’ other big strike threat, record signing Dani Osvaldo, who netted his first goal for the club when he struck the opener in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
“I was delighted for him to open his account,” said Lallana. “I’m sure there’s many more to come.
“He’s a great, great lad. He’s settled in really well and it’s easy to get on with him, he’s a really good guy, he’s got a good sense of humour and he’s a top, top player.”