Adam Lallana can take his pick from the memories if he ever needs reminding how far he has come in a few short years. He might reflect on the reality that the last time England participated at a World Cup, in South Africa four years ago, he was a League One player still seeking to make a meaningful mark. Or, indeed, that as Roy Hodgson’s team prepared for Ukraine and Euro 2012, he had still to grace the top flight.

The Southampton midfielder could break the process down even further. Take, perhaps, a Tuesday night at Hartlepool’s Victoria Park on 22 February, 2011 when he was flanked by his England team-mates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rickie Lambert in the team with Morgan Schneiderlin, elevated into France’s squad last week, among the unused substitutes on the bench. That otherwise forgettable occasion, witnessed by 3,301 supporters, finished goalless. “It’s when you reflect on it you realise the journey you’ve been on and what a remarkable achievement all this is,” he said. “All you can try to do is keep enjoying it, taking it all in your stride.”

Lallana and Lambert must pinch themselves sometimes at their elevation. Back home the midfielder is the subject of persistent interest from Liverpool, who hope to prise him from St Mary’s for around £25m and reunite him with the striker. In Brazil he is training in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain and the backdrop of Guanabara Bay. The setting is idyllic, the facilities close to pristine. This is about as far removed as is possible from toiling in the lower leagues and, as a result, a source of inspiration.

The 26-year-old had watched England go out of the European Championship on penalties to Italy, Saturday’s opening opponents in Manaus, with friends back home, a fan dismayed by elimination. “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 XI. 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.”