THE BLOG
25/11/2013 07:31 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Can Players From the 'Smaller Clubs' Make an Impact at the World Cup?

International football is supposed to bring the best players from one country together in order to compete with the best of another. Logic dictates that the English players from the best teams in England (as there aren't any playing abroad) would be picked, but like many things in football, this isn't always the case.

Take the latest England team that played against Chile and Germany. In this team were, amongst others, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez of Southampton. Whilst they are all playing well for their club and merit being called up, could they really make an impact at the World Cup?

The word 'impact' isn't being used here in the sense of impacting on England so that they win the World Cup, but in the sense of standing out and making people take notice, like the case of Michael Owen in the 1998 World Cup against Argentina.

One reason that they will struggle to make a difference is because they aren't match winners. In the heat of Brazil, is it realistic to think that Rodriguez would take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it for England? The answer is probably not.

Another issue is mentality. Yes, Southampton are flying high in the Premier League right now and deserve to be, but it's hard to see them being there at the end of the season. An international footballer needs a winning mentality. The players from Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City all have winning mentalities and are used to the expectations of victory every time they pull on the shirt.

Expectation can have a massive effect on a player. Southampton's Lallana might pick the ball up in midfield and immediately look for a forward pass, but in an England shirt he might think twice and go backwards or sideways. Although it may seem like a small point to make, it impacts the pace of the game and can lead to missed chances and mistakes.

The only way for players from smaller clubs to adapt and grow into the side is by playing games. As it stands, England have a game against Denmark and will probably arrange another two or three games before the start of the tournament. Players take time to settle into a team, however, and two or three games might not be enough time to gel into a cohesive unit.

The reality of the situation is that there won't be many, if any, players from 'smaller' clubs on the plane to Brazil, anyway. Theo Walcott would probably be preferred over Lallana, Andy Carroll over Lambert and Danny Welbeck over Rodriguez. Managers tend to stick to what they know when a major tournament comes around and Hodgson is probably no exception.

Whilst all of the above points are valid, it's also important to remember that all three Southampton players line up alongside Pablo Osvaldo, an Italian international with 13 caps and a player who is very much involved in the Italy squad. In recent years, Italy have been more successful than England and even won the World Cup in 2006. Just because Osvaldo is now playing for a 'smaller' English club doesn't mean that Italy will turn their back on him.

I believe that the quality of the player is ultimately what matters and if Lallana, Rodriguez or Lambert are considered good enough to play for their country then there is every chance that, if selected, they can make an impact at the World Cup. The two main attributes that will be put to the test are the quality and mentality of the player. In 1998, Ronaldo had the quality upfront for Brazil, but his mental strength let him down. For years England have gone with the big players from the big clubs, but to no avail. Maybe taking a chance on one or two lesser known quantitities wouldn't be such a bad thing.

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