Former England captain Tony Adams does not think Luke Shaw should have gone to the World Cup – but now that he is there he believes the teenage ace should start.

Adams said he disagreed with Roy Hodgson’s decision to pick the 18-year-old left-back ahead of Ashley Cole for the tournament in Brazil.

But, having decided to take him as one for the future, the former Arsenal defender believes that Shaw should be starting, not sat on the bench as understudy to Leighton Baines.

He said: “I was all in favour of Ashley Cole, it must be said. I thought it was a mistake not to take our most experienced left-back.

“If you’re taking that decision with Ashley, why not take all kids.

“I think Luke might get some minutes. I think he can play one up in midfield as well.

“He’s a big talent for the future, and I think that’s what this is – it’s a move for the future.

“But I would put him ahead of Leighton Baines if you’re taking that decision.

“No European team has ever won the World Cup in South America and, if we’re working towards Russia in 2018, then let’s play him.”

While Shaw’s former teammate, Rickie Lambert, has already departed Saints this summer, to join Liverpool, there will be a lot of support for him in this part of the world if he steps onto the pitch against Italy tonight.

Adams believes that Lambert, who he sees as a similar style of player to Alan Shearer, should be in the line-up.

“I would play him,” he said. “Brazil were quite direct on Thursday night and they played a lot of balls off of Fred.

“He pinned the centre half quite a few times, and Oscar and Neymar were able to play off him.

“In 1996, we had Alan Shearer, and Rickie Lambert has got a lot of the same type of qualities as him. He’s the type of player I would play.”

Of what might still be deemed the Saints trio, it is Adam Lallana who appears to have the best chance of starting tonight, though.

Yet, while Adams believes he could be a valuable option this evening, he says he would opt for some of England’s quicker players over Lallana normally.

“I would want a bit of pace in my team,” he said.

“I think going forward we’re second to none in the tournament.

“I don’t see a better offensive unit, and Lallana will certainly add to that.

“But I’m not too sure he will start him, though, and maybe neither would I, but he will be useful.

“Against Italy, I would give him at least a half, because I think they will play defensively and they will put people behind the ball, and Lallana’s the type of player who can open teams up.”

Adams believes it is vital England get something from tonight’s game, and he is confident if they don’t lose that Hodgson’s men will progress beyond the group stage.

However, he believes that, defensively, the squad will not prove to be strong enough to get much further than the quarter-finals.

“I think the public are quite realistic, and so am I,” he said.

“I don’t think I have spoken to anyone who said we are going to win it, and I don’t think with our defensive unit that we can win it.

“When you get into the quarter-finals, you are playing against top countries with top talent, and I don’t think defensively we will keep enough clean sheets to win the tournament.

“We’ve got good players there, but they’re not great players.

“The last two World Cups were won by countries with outstanding central defenders – Sergio Ramos with Spain and Fabio Cannavaro with Italy.

“But you never know. Seven games is all it is.

“I think if we win or draw against Italy we will get out of the group, because I think we will beat Costa Rica. Uruguay are tricky if we lose against Italy.

“As long as we don’t lose to Italy, I think we will get out of the group.

“The round of 16 looks like it would be a favourable draw for us, not against a top country, but the quarter-final looks like a Brazil or Spain, and I think that, defensively, we are not going to be good enough.”

Tony Adams was speaking after hosting an exclusive ‘Talking Tactics’ session at WestQuay, where he spoke with England fans ahead of the team’s opening World Cup match.