Lallana: I could stay with Saints

first_img Press Association “I feel I’ve been honest throughout my whole career and I want to be honest now to whoever I’m speaking to, whether it’s the fans, the manager or anyone. “Every fan would realise that there’s big potential in our team and we have players who can go and play at a higher level – we proved that when there were 16 of our lads away on international duty. “I’m certainly ambitious. I want to one day play in the Champions League and compete for the Premier League title, but I still feel like I’m the same guy I was when we were playing in League One and the Championship. “I haven’t changed my personality or changed as a person. It’s a privilege to be in this position and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” This has been a fine campaign for the 26-year-old, whose wonderful performances saw him nominated for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award and named in the team of the season. This week Lallana cleaned up at Southampton’s annual awards and the attacking midfielder is set to be named in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad on Monday – less than 24 hours after what is being billed in some quarters as his last match for Southampton. The academy graduate has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool and some interpreted the emotional nature of his awards night speech on Tuesday as a hint that his future lies away from St Mary’s. “I got emotional because it’s been a journey that I couldn’t have dreamed of – but I’m not saying that this is the end by any means,” Lallana told the Southampton matchday magazine ahead of the match with Manchester United. “Obviously, with how well the club and its players have done, there are going to be some decisions to make in the summer, and maybe it all hit home a little bit when I was speaking. “How far we’ve come in a short space of time is beyond anyone’s belief. We’ve won our league, in our eyes, with where we’ve finished. “We’re now in a position where we have to sit down as a club and decide what is best and what’s the right route to take, because we want to be a stable club – that’s the main thing. “We want to be competing in the Premier League for the next four or five years and forever longer.” Lallana is not the only big name to have been linked with a move away from Saints, with teenager Luke Shaw and manager Mauricio Pochettino also attracting admiring glances. “I just want to be honest,” Lallana added. Adam Lallana wants to be challenging for the title and playing Champions League football, but the England international insists that does not necessarily mean he will leave Southampton this summer.last_img read more

Freshman Qaadir Sheppard impresses at defensive end

first_img Published on October 21, 2015 at 9:35 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman It was always Qaadir Sheppard, Jake Pickard and Amir Ealey. Coaches often grouped the three freshman defensive ends when asked in preseason which defensive rookies stood out.Seven weeks into the schedule, though, it’s the Bronx, New York native coming off his first career interception — another indication of the separation he’s created from the group.“Q’s very talented,” nose tackle Kayton Samuels said of Sheppard. “I don’t want to put anyone out, but probably the most talented out of the three.”Against Virginia on Saturday, Sheppard corralled a Chris Slayton-tipped pass with 32 seconds left in the first half and returned it 3 yards to UVA’s 26-yard line. The very next play, Eric Dungey hurdled safety Quin Blanding before spinning in for a touchdown to give the Orange a 21-14 halftime lead.As SU (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) prepares for a Saturday date with No. 25 Pittsburgh (5-1, 3-0), a downhill running team, Sheppard may be called on more to stop freshman running back Qadree Ollison and help Syracuse snap a three-game losing streak.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“He’s shown to get better every week and that’s very encouraging,” defensive line coach Tim Daoust said. “A true freshman is figuring out more and more.”As a senior at Iona (New York) Prep, Sheppard recorded eight sacks and recovered five fumbles. On the other side of the ball, he caught 58 passes for 842 yards and 13 touchdowns as a tight end. Now lining up opposite the position he excelled at, Sheppard said he knows what kinds of moves tight ends make so he can accordingly counter with ones of his own.Before the season, he was listed at 6-foot-3 and 222 pounds. Now, has him at 247. What puts Sheppard above Pickard for instance, Samuels said, is a physical stature to go along with his acquired learning curve.“If Jake was physically there, he’d be playing just like Q,” Samuels said. “Q is physical and he learned.”The biggest learning curve Sheppard had to adapt to was the playbook. He spent hours every day studying blitzes that he could apply in practice. As a result, his level of understanding with the schemes is high enough to be thrust into defending the likes of LSU running back Leonard Fournette and South Florida tailback Marlon Mack.When Sheppard intercepted Virginia quarterback Matt Johns, he was greeted on the sideline by defensive end Donnie Simmons. The senior is the other D-end to pick off a pass this year, but his was returned for a touchdown against Wake Forest on Sept. 12.“I just jumped up and grabbed the ball and I just tried to score with it,” Sheppard said of his interception. “I told (Simmons) if I get another one, I’m going to take it to the house.”As Daoust put it, Sheppard’s preparation met an opportunity against the Cavaliers. And in a group of defensive ends frontloaded with experience, the freshman is beginning to crack through the floor.Said Daoust: “He’s getting himself out there more and more in critical situations.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more