BOURNEMOUTH boy Adam Lallana has no qualms about shouldering England’s World Cup expectations and should start against Italy – according to best mate Jamie Whisken.
The Poole Town defender, best man at the former Cherries youngster's wedding in December, has been speaking to his close friend on a daily basis since England jetted out last week and will join him in Brazil on Wednesday.
Southampton’s 26-year-old playmaker – understood to be on the cusp of a £25million transfer to Liverpool with Cherries set to benefit from a bumper 25 per cent sell-on clause – has largely impressed since making his Three Lions debut against Chile in November.
He was capped in each of England’s subsequent five World Cup warm-up matches and played 90 minutes of Saturday’s final run-out - a 0-0 draw with Honduras in Miami.
That fine fettle prompted debate over whether boss Roy Hodgson should play it safe with experienced players Danny Welbeck and James Milner or field in-form rookies such as Ringwood-based Lallana, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling or Everton's Ross Barkley in England’s attacking-midfield positions.
Whisken, who was at Cherries Centre of Excellence with Lallana, made the case for a bold approach and backed his companion’s case ahead of next Saturday’s showdown in Manaus.
Asked whether Lallana should start, Whisken told the Daily Echo: “Without a shadow of doubt and I think he (Hodgson) will go with Adam on the left and Sterling on the right because that will give the midfield a bit of everything.
“With Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard in the middle, it will have creativity, flair and work rate and I think the nation would like to see that. If we lose or don’t get what we want from the game, people will still want to see us go all out for the win.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he played Milner but we have tried playing it safe in previous tournaments and it hasn’t paid off so I think we should go for it. We haven’t got anything to lose this year.
“There is less expectation about this tournament compared with some in the past and fans want to see us go for broke.
“He (Lallana) might not have as many caps as the others but it is nice to see players picked on form and I think that’s what we might go with this time. I hope so.”
Whisken, who featured with his friend at Littledown Juniors and Redhill Rangers as a child, said there was no prospect of Lallana freezing on the big stage.
“His confidence has grown from being round the England squad on a regular basis,” he added. “He’s a very good trainer and gets a lift from being in that environment day-in, day-out.
“He tells me how the tempo in training is nothing like anything he has experienced before but he’s good enough tactically to deal with it.
“I think his first game at Wembley fazed him a little bit, you could tell he was nervous but I haven’t seen that in him personally or on the pitch since then. He is ready.”