Roy Hodgson is refusing to reveal whether Adam Lallana will get a coveted spot in the England team for their World Cup opener against Italy on Saturday.

The Three Lions boss is keeping his cards close to his chest as his team make final preparations for facing the Italians.

Excitement is building in Southampton that Lallana, right, who has come through the ranks at Saints after joining as a 12-year-old, will be in the starting line-up.

With speculation also mounting in Brazil, Hodgson has found himself having to fend off questions regarding his team as best he can.

Hodgson said: “I don’t intend on giving too much away, other than what I’ve said on that – that it’s good to have options and choices.”

Hodgson has taken a young squad to Brazil, including 18-year-old Saints left back Luke Shaw, and added: “It’s very exciting. We have a lot of potential but before we build people up too much and say how good they are, let’s see some performances.

“I’m not trying to play down that the future is bright but what I’m saying is we are also going to need our experienced players.”

Hodgson allayed fitness concerns over captain Steven Gerrard ahead of the start of the World Cup.

England begin their campaign against Italy in Manaus on Saturday and part of the build-up has been centred on fitness issues.

Former Saints youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain injured his knee against Ecuador last week, while there were reports that Gerrard has been complaining of a tight groin.

The former has been stepping up his work on the training field over recent days and, according to Hodgson, there are no worries about the latter.

“We did a training session (yesterday) where the players who didn’t play on Saturday (against Honduras) trained, and some of the others did a warm-down session,” he said.

“Steven did some extra work at the end of that training session. There’s nothing wrong with him and I don’t understand that story at all."

On Oxlade-Chamberlain he said: “He’s done very well and will work on his training programme during the course of the week.”

Hodgson is optimistic his side can put in a better showing against Italy than when they were knocked out of Euro 2012 with Andrea Pirlo in imperious form.

“Of the four matches we played at Euro 2012, the Italy game, if you take our overall performance, was our worst performance, and all the players would agree with me,” said Hodgson.

“How are we going to stop Pirlo? What we’re going to do first of all is we’re going to play better against Italy this time than we did then.

“We’ll play with more energy because we’ll have more energy, because it will be the first game in the tournament. We’ll be even more compact than we were in that game.

“We’re going to make certain also that Italy have a lot more to concern themselves with our attacking play, because one of the problems we had in that game is that we weren’t functioning well as an attacking unit. So Italy had too much of the ball and we were doing too much defending.

“One of our plans this time is to make certain we do a lot more attacking and that Italy find themselves wondering what they’re going to do about people like Steven Gerrard or Wayne Rooney.”