SAINTS skipper Adam Lallana has no qualms about shouldering England’s World Cup expectations and should start against Italy – according to best mate Jamie Whisken.
The former AFC Totton defender, best man at Lallana’s wedding last December, has been speaking to his close friend on a daily basis since England jetted out last week and will join him in Brazil tomorrow.
The 26-year-old playmaker – keen to seal a £25m transfer to Liverpool – has largely impressed since making his Three Lions debut against Chile in November.
He was capped in each of England’s five World Cup warm-up matches and played 90 minutes of Saturday’s final run-out – a 0-0 draw with Honduras in Miami.
That outing has since sparked debate over whether boss Roy Hodgson should play it safe with experienced players Danny Welbeck and James Milner or field in-form rookies Lallana and Raheem Sterling in England’s wide positions.
Whisken, made the case for a bold approach and backed his companion’s case ahead of Saturday’s showdown in Manaus.
Asked whether Lallana should start, Whisken said: “Without a shadow of doubt.
“He (Hodgson) will go with Adam on the left and Sterling on the right because that will give the midfield a bit of everything.
“With Henderson and Gerrard in the middle, it will have creativity, flair and work rate.
“The nation would like to see that.
“If we lose or don’t get what we want from the game, people will still want to see us go all out for the win.
“We haven’t got anything to lose this year.
“There is less expectation about this tournament compared with some in the past and fans want to see us go for broke.
“He (Lallana) might not have as many caps as the others but it is nice to see players picked on form and I think that’s what we might go with this time. I hope so.”
Whisken (above), who currently plays for Poole Town, said there was no prospect of Lallana freezing on the big stage.
“His confidence has grown from being round the England squad on a regular basis,” he added.
“He’s a very good trainer and gets a lift from being in that environment day-in, day-out.
“He tells me how the tempo in training is nothing like anything he has experienced before but he’s good enough tactically to deal with it. His first game at Wembley fazed him a little bit, you could tell he was nervous, but I haven’t seen that in him personally or on the pitch since then.
“He is ready.”