Hodgson gives Vardy wedding blessings

Jamie Vardy (airborne) scoring England's second goal in the 2-1 win over Turkey on Sunday. Coach Roy Hodgson was happy that the striker was able to play more than one system.
Jamie Vardy (airborne) scoring England's second goal in the 2-1 win over Turkey on Sunday. Coach Roy Hodgson was happy that the striker was able to play more than one system. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANCHESTER • England head coach Roy Hodgson has defended Jamie Vardy's decision to interrupt England's preparations for Euro 2016 by departing the national camp briefly in order to get married, following the striker's winner in the 2-1 friendly victory against Turkey on Sunday.

At the end of an afternoon in which England showcased both their 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 diamond formations, their coach also expressed satisfaction with Vardy's ability to both play wide on the left and up front alongside Harry Kane.

Goals from Kane in the third minute and Vardy seven minutes from time gave England victory in the first of three friendlies.

They face Australia at the Stadium of Light on Friday and then Portugal at Wembley on Thursday week before flying to France to open their Euro 2016 qualifying group against Russia in Marseille on June 11.

Hodgson was cautiously satisfied with a performance punctuated by plenty of attacking promise but underscored by a pronounced defensive vulnerability at times.

He said: "For large swaths of the game, we played reasonably well. But Turkey had some good moments. We're not the finished article, there's work to be done."

Happily for him, the opposition also had few answers to Vardy's change of pace and goal-scoring instincts.

When asked if the Leicester City forward was wasted on the wing when he could have been alongside Kane, Hodgson replied emphatically: "We need to be able to play both systems - asking him to play on the left or right side shouldn't cause him any problems.

"We can't leave ourselves hamstrung and say Jamie Vardy is only going to play in one system. I spoke to Jamie before the game and he was more than happy to play in a wider system. I think it was a success."

With Vardy now temporarily departing in order to get married this week, it means he will not be available at Sunderland, where Wayne Rooney and his fellow Manchester United players - with the possible exception of the injured Marcus Rashford - are due to join up with England following their FA Cup final victory against Crystal Palace last Saturday.

While Hodgson conceded the public might view Vardy's absence as "odd", he said he had no issues with it.

"The major reason was he had to cancel his wedding last year when I called him up. So it was more difficult for me than it would have been otherwise to complain about this week's date.

"We also changed the time of our meeting-up. When Jamie planned the wedding, he thought he'd get a week or 10 days off at the end of the season.

"You'd have to ask him about the wedding but we know Jamie, we're satisfied with him.

"I don't think his place in the team, or the squad, is under enormous threat. And in some ways the competition for places has perked up because the Manchester United players join us."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Hodgson gives Vardy wedding blessings'. Print Edition | Subscribe