Saints starlet sets sights on England

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England U21 manager Stuart Pearce is today set to name his 23-man squad that will travel to Denmark in search of European Championship glory this summer.

The young Lions boss grabbed the headlines when he included Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll in his provisional group of players, with the former set to be named in the final cut after the Arsenal midfielder welcomed the decision, saying he could only benefit from the experience.

Another midfielder hoping to get the nod is Southampton starlet Adam Lallana, who is looking to cap an excellent season having helped guide his boyhood club to automatic promotion from League One, with a place in Pearce's final squad.

The 23-year-old winger has been an inspiration for the Saints this season despite a series of niggling injuries, chipping in with 11 goals and 11 assists in 35 appearances for Nigel Adkins' side.

The reward for his fine form was a call-up to the initial squad earlier this month which also includes the likes of Micah Richards, Chris Smalling, Jack Rodwell, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck.

Good company indeed for Lallana, who finds himself mixing it with a host of Barclays Premier League stars, before that list is finally whittled down to 23 players this afternoon.

If Lallana makes the cut, he could be in line to pull on an England shirt in front of his home crowd at St Mary's, when the Lions take on Norway in a warm-up fixture on 5 June before flying out to Denmark ahead of this summer's tournament.

The possibility of that, twinned with the opportunity to test himself on the international stage when England take on Spain (12 June), Ukraine (15 June) and then Czech Republic (19 June), is an exciting prospect. spoke exclusively to Adam Lallana to gather his thoughts ahead of this afternoon's announcement.

Q: Congratulations on your inclusion in the provisional squad. How do you rate your chances of making the final cut?

A: I'm thrilled to be in the 40 and would love to be in the final 23. As long as I keep myself fit, that is all I can do really, it is out of my hands.

There could be injuries so I've just got to make myself available. I'm just going to keep fit over the summer and wait and see.

I'm proud to have been recognised, and all I can do is be available and wait for the call.

Q: What is Stuart Pearce like as a coach?

A: He is a really good manager and great coach. When he was a player, he was very passionate, a big talker and extremely influential.

As a manager he is completely different. He goes about his business quietly but gets his message across.

It's great to go away and experience different managers and how they approach their role.

Q: A lot has been said about the Wilshere/Carroll situation – where do you stand on the debate?

A: As long as they're eligible I don't see why they shouldn't play. It's not for me to decide, but I'm sure they will both be desperate to represent their country no matter what stage it is on.

(Theo) Walcott has done it. He went to the World Cup and came back and played for the U21s, and look how successful he has been.

It's going to help the team, they are both outstanding talents and have already proved themselves at senior level, so it's going to be fantastic for England to have them in the team.

Q: There are a number of household names in the squad, but who would you say is a standout player to watch out for?

A: Josh McEachran - I've never played against him, but have watched him a couple of times for Chelsea and for England. He looks so calm and collective on the ball it is unbelievable.

Q: What are your plans between now and June?

A: I'll be keeping myself ticking over until the squad is announced. Hopefully I'll be in the squad and off to Denmark, but if not then I'll get away somewhere, put my feet up ready to come back all guns blazing for the Saints next season.

Q: And finally, how far can England go?

A: All the way. With the talent in the squad the sky's the limit. Hopefully I'll be a part of it, but either way I think it will be a successful summer for England.


England U21 provisional squad:

Frank Fielding (Blackburn), Scott Loach (Watford), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough), Alex McCarthy (Reading), Joe Bennett (Middlesbrough), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jones (Blackburn), Michael Mancienne (Chelsea), Ben Mee (Manchester City), Kyle Naughton (Tottenham), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), James Tomkins (West Ham), Kieran Trippier (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa), Jack Cork (Chelsea), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Jay Spearing (Liverpool) Adam Hammill (Wolves), Jordan Henderson (Sunderland), Jonny Howson (Leeds), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Henri Lansbury (Arsenal), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Scott Sinclair (Swansea), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Andrew Carroll (Liverpool), Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Gary Hooper (Celtic), Jay Rodriguez (Burnley), Freddie Sears (West Ham), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), James Vaughan (Everton), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Connor Wickham (Ipswich).

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