Friends reunited at Euro 2016 for England's Adam Lallana

Tuesday 14 Jun 2016
England's Adam Lallana

As England prepare to face Wales on Thursday, Adam Lallana is in a better position than most to assess the opposition.

The Three Lions midfielder came through the ranks as a youngster at Southampton alongside Welsh star Gareth Bale and now plays for Liverpool with Joe Allen and goalkeeper Danny Ward.

And the 28-year-old is looking forward to a competitive international derby in Lens, with Roy Hodgson's men looking to register their first win of Euro 2016 and a chance to nudge ahead of their neighbours in the Group B rankings.

England v Wales

UEFA Euro 2016
Group B
2pm, Thursday 16 June 2016
Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens
 Live on BBC One

"People might say it is a must-win game," said Lallana, who will be hoping to retain his spot in the line-up after featuring in the 1-1 draw against Russia in Saturday’s opener. 

"We will be looking for a win against Wales, that’s for sure.

"It is a pivotal game in the group. We know we need a good result. But we have big players in our team who are used to dealing with pressure. We thrive on that.

"The Russia match is definitely out of our system. You get over the disappointment quickly and take the positives from the game - we had plenty of them.

"The belief in the camp is huge. You could see our intent and focus right from the start the other night. But we do have to be more ruthless and sharpen up a couple of things." 

Both Lallana and Bale have come a long way since their time together at St. Mary’s, where the England man captained the club and made over 230 appearances during an eight-year spell before making the move north to Anfield in 2014.

Real Madrid

Lallana and Bale are close friends after playing together during their days at Southampton

Bale’s career took him away from the south coast to Tottenham Hotspur, where he developed into one of the Premier League’s hottest properties over the course of six seasons to earn a big-money switch to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

But Lallana has warned his team-mates that they should be wary of concentrating too much on stopping the Cardiff-born forward.

"I played with Gareth growing up and he's a good friend of mine," he added.

"He always had great ability from a young age. He has become a great player, but it would be naive to focus just on him, they have others. 

"Wales have a lot of talented players - Joe Allen is a very good one, Aaron Ramsey another, we can’t be naive and put all the focus on Gareth, that’s not what we would do. 

"There is great respect among the players, and that is good to see.

"I have a few friends and team-mates in Wales who play for Liverpool, it’s special when players know each other so well from club football.

"There is something special about the game. There is a British feel. It will be good for neutrals watching the match.

"There is a rivalry there with Wales. There are plenty of rivalries in football and plenty of friendships within those rivalries. It’s business on the pitch and then go back to being friends."

The England pair speak to the media ahead of the game with Wales at Euro 2016

 

By Nicholas Veevers