March 29, 2018 / 6:09 AM / 4 months ago

Soccer: Lallana targets World Cup selection after injury nightmare

(Reuters) - Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is determined to make a late-season push to secure his place in the England World Cup squad despite missing a majority of the campaign through injury.

Soccer Football - England Training - St. George’s Park, Burton Upon Trent, Britain - March 22, 2018 England's Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana during traning Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

The 29-year-old, who sat out the first half of the campaign after suffering a pre-season thigh strain, believes greater involvement in Liverpool’s run-in will bolster his chances of being included in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for Russia.

He made his first England appearance of the season in their 1-1 draw with Italy on Tuesday and remains hopeful of picking up more game time, starting with Liverpool’s Premier League visit to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

“It’s been a bit stop-start,” Lallana, who has only started one league game for Liverpool this term, told British media.

“It’s been a different challenge for me this season. I’ve had a long layoff but I’m back at the business end of the season, and I’ve got to look at the positives.

“We’ve got the World Cup, some really important league games and the Champions League. I just need to get that rhythm, and you need to get minutes on the pitch. It’s not just about training, it’s about competitive football.”

Lallana has likened his situation to that of Darren Anderton, who had an injury-blighted spell at Tottenham Hotspur but managed to seal a place in England’s 1998 World Cup squad and played all four of the side’s matches in France.

The former Southampton player said he shared a strong relationship with Southgate but had refused to take anything for granted before the England manager named his squad for the June-July tournament in Russia.

“We’ve been speaking throughout the season, he’s been interested to know where I’ve been with my rehab,” Lallana added.

“He recognises what I bring to the team, my team mates recognise that and so do I. I’m smart enough not to be complacent, there’s enough talent that wants to get into the squad.”

England begin their World Cup campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18. Panama and Belgium are their other two Group G opponents.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru

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