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COMMENT: Lallana and Shaw handed golden chance
This evening could be the first night of the rest of their careers for Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.
Shaw has been told he is guaranteed a start for England in the World Cup as they play out their disastrous trip to Brazil by taking on Costa Rica.
Lallana will start too, and so he should too.
If this England squad was all about planning for the future, then it has to start right here and now.
Roy Hodgson has used some younger players in his side in this tournament, but also erred on the side of plenty of experience as well. It has gone very badly as England have lost to both Italy and Uruguay to confirm an early exit.
Lallana should have played a greater role in England’s campaign thus far.
He has been used as a second half sub in both games, but not really been given enough time to seriously affect the games.
That said, in those brief appearances he has shown plenty enough to have suggested he should have played far more, and should do in the future.
For Lallana it will be a wonderful opportunity.
He doesn’t really take any blame for this England failure, and here is a chance to start in a World Cup under as little pressure as is possible.
England are already out so what’s the worst can happen? They lose again. The damage is already done.
Instead though there will surely be a rallying cry to try and restore some pride, and if England do that and Lallana plays well, then he could find an irresistible clamour for him to become a fixture in the side.
Shaw has a similar opportunity.
He has had no game time thus far in the World Cup, as he has sat on the sidelines acting as understudy for Leighton Baines.
With all due respect to the Everton man, Shaw may well have thought he could have done better than his more experienced colleague.
Baines is out of tonight’s game with a groin injury which means Shaw will get his chance.
Understandably he might be a little nervier than Lallana, not having tasted the World Cup and at a much more tender age.
Hodgson clearly rates him though, as does the entire footballing world, and surely expects him to be the England left back for the next decade to come.
If Shaw does well tonight and doesn’t freeze in the big game pressure, he may well be taking over the England number three shirt from now on.
Of course there is plenty of talk over the duo and their futures when they return to Saints.
But for now they remain Saints players who are set to make history and do the club and its fans proud when they both start for England this evening.
What a night for the club, the city and for them it will be, and what a chance to ensure this is not a fleeting moment in the sun but the start of life as England regulars.