Football: Vardy's form creates England selection dilemma

England's Jamie Vardy (left) scoring England's only goal in the 1-2 loss to the Netherlands in the international friendly at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. It was Vardy's second goal in as many games for England.
England's Jamie Vardy (left) scoring England's only goal in the 1-2 loss to the Netherlands in the international friendly at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. It was Vardy's second goal in as many games for England. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Rooney hails Hodgson's 'exciting' quandary, as Vardy's form could keep captain on bench

LONDON • If picking England's lead striker for Euro 2016 were a job left to Wayne Rooney's son, the England captain may well find himself on the bench.

"My lad asked me to get him an England kit with Vardy on the back," said Rooney Sr, who was on punditry duty for ITV on Tuesday night, as he witnessed Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy continue his good form in an England shirt by scoring his second goal in as many games for the Three Lions.

"Obviously the impact he's had this season on the Premier League, and now for England, it's great for English football and hopefully he can continue that and score more goals," he added.

 

Vardy's latest goal, a close-range strike against Netherlands, was not enough to prevent England from falling 1-2 at Wembley.

But few would be overly concerned by the result. Another strong attacking display by Roy Hodgson's men, coupled with the 3-2 win over world champions Germany on Saturday night, has fuelled talk that England can truly be contenders in France this summer.

Harry Kane, the Premier League's leading scorer with 21 goals, is another player who may ensure that Rooney is kept warming the bench.

Together with Dele Alli and Eric Dier, the trio are the reason behind Tottenham's exceptional league position this campaign. With a good chemistry already in place, Kane would have an edge when it comes to playing in England's attack, supported by Alli and Dier.

The various options are sure to present Hodgson with a conundrum.

But the competition for players is one Rooney finds "exciting".

NO SHORTAGE OF CHOICES

The manager can play three or four teams with different combinations, because I really believe we have got that quality.
 

WAYNE ROONEY, taking the pragmatic view of England's efficient strike force.

"Obviously you want to play, and it is great that that competition is now there. With the quality we've got, it is exciting to be a part of.

"I don't think of it in terms of needing to fight for my place. I think it is exciting. In previous tournaments, if everyone is fit, more or less the team is set.

"But now, no one knows what is going to happen. The manager can play three or four teams with different combinations, because I really believe we have got that quality. It is an opportunity for us to do really well in the summer," said Rooney.

Former England striker Teddy Sheringham has also suggested that Rooney should be partnered with the in-form Kane up front in France.

"Wayne Rooney should start for England, without a doubt. He's the England captain. Kane has come on the scene and is demanding he plays with what he's producing - and I believe Rooney would be a fantastic foil for Kane.

"Kane is now an out-and-out No. 9 and Rooney is an off-the-front player, so I think they would accommodate each other perfectly. They would work well in tandem," he said.

Hodgson will announce his 23-man squad, with seven standbys, on May 12 before Uefa's deadline at the end of that month.

The England coach probably already has in mind who he wants to pick, but it is the selection of the right man to lead his attack that could be the biggest problem.

It is unlikely that he would complain too much about it, though.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2016, with the headline 'ENGLAND SELECTION DILEMMA'. Print Edition | Subscribe