This season has been fantastic for young English talent emerging as a platform has been created for England to compete at the top level for the next decade. Two of the standout Englishmen in the Premier League this season have been Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley, both of whom are attacking midfielders. The country is starting to get behind them to start in Brazil, but how can Roy Hodgson fit them both in? Considering he also needs to incorporate Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard. He could play in a similar way to Chelsea with Rooney, Lallana and Barkley behind Sturridge, but this may be too attacking for Hodgson as he is lacking a quality defensive midfielder. Therefore, Hodgson will probably opt of one out of the two.
The Southampton player has more to his game than Barkley as he has contributed 9 goals and 6 assists to his side, whereas the Everton midfielder has 5 goals and no assists to his name. Lallana is far more productive in the final third, despite being used in a more withdrawn role than Barkley. The latter has a shot every 45 minutes, while the Saints captain shoots once ever 64 minutes. Lallana has a more impressive shooting accuracy, with 59% of his shots finding the target. The Everton youngster only hits the target with 38% of his shots. The Saints man also has a better chance conversion with 22% compared to 12% from Barkley. This may highlight Lallana’s greater experience and intelligence in the final third, as he has 229 league games for Southampton under his belt. Barkley has only played 40 league games for Everton. The Saints man is also 5 years older than Barkley.
In creative terms, Lallana is again far more impressive than Barkley, but the former is known for his creatively, while the Everton midfielder likes to get beyond the striker in search for goals. The Saints captain has created 59 chances, which is a chance every 44 minutes. Meanwhile Barkley has created a total of 22 chances, which is a chance created every 85 chances. This is to be expected as Lallana is the main creative outlet in the Southampton side, while Everton rely on their wingers and full backs to provide the service.
Although Lallana appears to offer more, Ross Barkley has come on amazingly under Roberto Martinez as his strength and technical ability has allowed him to become one of the brightest young players in the world. His potential was clear on Tuesday night as he ran with the ball from his own half, to score a wonderful goal against Newcastle, beating several players in the process. That goal showed shades of Paul Gascoigne and England fans will be hoping that Barkley develops to be as good as Gascoigne. He is still only 20 years old, which is incredible considering his strength as he pushes past defenders with ease as he runs with the ball. The Everton midfielder is also lethal from range as his long shots possess real quality.
If Hodgson is feeling brave this summer, then he should opt to field both Lallana and Barkley alongside Rooney behind Sturridge as they would prove to be a very dangerous attacking force. However England are vulnerable defensively, so Hodgson will likely field three central midfielders. Although Lallana could line up alongside Steven Gerrard and either Jordan Henderson or Jack Wilshere in the middle of the park, he is more effective in a more attacking role. Barkley has to be used by England in some form as he has showed himself to provide moments of magic that some of the other England midfielders just can’t, but if Hodgson has to pick between the two, then Lallana has to be the favourite to start in Brazil. In theory both should start, but it depends how Hodgson wants his side to play.