Saints trio receive England friendlies call-up

Roy Hodgson heaped praise on high-flying Southampton after calling up Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert for England's upcoming friendlies.

Rickie Lambert of Southampton

Mauricio Pochettino's side have impressed many this campaign and sit sixth after a top-flight start only bettered in the club's history when finishing runners-up in 1983/84.

It is success in which an English core has proved a major catalyst, with six homegrown players starting their last top-flight outing at Stoke.

That approach is not only reaping rewards for Saints but also the national team, with Rodriguez, Lallana and Lambert on Thursday called up for the upcoming friendlies with Chile and Germany.

Saints also boast a pair of players in both the Under-19 and Under-21 squads, while academy graduates Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have become important members of the senior team.

"They have been the team I think that has taken the league by storm," Hodgson said of Southampton's season to date.

"No-one mentioned them amongst the top five or six clubs at the start of the season, so congratulations to them.

"There is Adam Lallana, Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and there is a Nathaniel Clyne, who is always in our thoughts. There is James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw, who play in the Under-21s.

"Southampton at the moment are becoming a very good club as far as England are concerned in terms of providing players.

"We like what we see there and this was a great opportunity. I didn't necessarily want to make too many changes before these important last four qualifiers.

"I had a squad of players who had been there and been with us all along. It would have been, I think, the wrong time to introduce them then.

"But it seems to me now is the right time to introduce them and I hope they will be happy to be selected. If they get a chance to show what they can do, I know they won't let their country down."

Not only are the trio's call-up a sign of how well Southampton are doing, but goes against the notion that only players at traditionally big clubs get selected.

"I think it is quite useful in that respect," Hodgson said.

"Sometimes one gets accused of only picking from the top teams, but that is not so strange because the top teams normally have the top players.

"That is not just in England, that is in every country in the world.

"It is always nice for players playing at clubs where maybe they don't have quite the same attention, if you like, as some of the other top teams to know they are not forgotten, to know there is chance for them if they play well.

"One thing is for sure, myself, Ray Lewington and Gary Neville, us three in particular, are the ones that really concentrate on the players that are looking to be selected in the squads.

"We follow every team, we follow all the matches. It is not a question of not going to watch this team or that team.

"But, we also focus our attention more on the teams where English players are playing.

"There are games sometimes being played between two English sides that don't have a great deal of relevance to me because they don't have any English players in the team."

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