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From League One to the World Cup and Liverpool - Lallana's story

ESPN staff
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England: Enthusiasm shining through

Adam Lallana admits he still has to pinch himself when he thinks about just how far he has come in the past few years.

When England tumbled out of the World Cup in 2010, Lallana was a trying to make an impact for mid-table Southampton in League One. Two years later, he watched on as Roy Hodgson's men were sent packing from Euro 2012 by Italy having just secured promotion to the Premier League.

Now Lallana is in strong contention to be Hodgson's playmaker as England begin their World Cup finals campaign - also against Italy - and on the verge of a move to Liverpool and, with it, the Champions League.

Citing a goalless draw at Hartlepool on a freezing cold night in February 2011 in front of just 3,000 people, in which Lallana played alongside fellow England call-ups Rickie Lambert and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as Morgan Schneiderlin who is in the France squad, he said: "It's when you reflect on it you realise the journey you've been on and what a remarkable achievement all this is.

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"All you can try to do is keep enjoying it, taking it all in your stride.

"Two years ago I'd never have imagined I'd be out here in Brazil at the World Cup," he said. "It wasn't even a target then.

"Everyone dreams of playing for their country at a World Cup but I wasn't thinking about it then. It was only probably when I got the call-ups at the back end of last year, for the friendlies against Chile and Germany, that I thought it might be realistic to make it, and then only if I maintained my club form.

"Then you see this and, as I was saying to one of the lads when we went out there, I can't think of many better places to train and prepare for a World Cup. Training in these conditions, with this scenery, that backdrop. It's lovely.

"But I don't want that to be it. I want to be here and play. I need to keep working hard in training and doing all I can to force myself into the first 11. The better I perform, the more chance I have to stay in the team or, if not, then to make a contribution from the bench.

"It would mean the world [to play] but the main thing is getting the three points. The result is all that matters. We have got a few days left to try and impress the manager."

Lallana recognises the competition in the squad, and added: "It's a good feeling. We all want the same outcome and that's a win. It's healthy."

England trained at their Urca military base on Monday and were joined by Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Arsenal man went through some strenuous running drills as he steps up his recovery from the knee injury suffered against Ecuador last week.

"It's really optimistic seeing him running,'' Lallana said. "It's a massive step and fingers crossed he'll be fit for the group stages."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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