Leicester forward Jamie Vardy made a claim to be in the starting XI for England this summer at Euro 2016 with a goal against Turkey in the first of three friendlies the Three Lions will play before they travel to France.
Vardy scored the winning goal in the 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium but he also won a penalty for his side which was missed by Harry Kane when the scores were level midway through the second half.
England manager Roy Hodgson currently has five strikers in his provisional 26-man squad for the European Championship. It includes Vardy, Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford but the latter is most likely to miss out if the Three Lions boss chooses to omit a forward from the final 23-man selection.
With 24 Premier League goals to his name last season, Vardy was one of the key reasons as to why Leicester lifted the title. He consistently scored big goals in vital games for the Foxes as they completed their fairytale campaign by winning the league after going off 5000/1 in the betting at the start of the campaign.
Although, in an ideal world, Hodgson would love to include both Kane and Vardy in his starting XI, given their records last season, and just like he did in the Turkey friendly, many pundits believe he will opt for an extra man in midfield with Rooney just playing off either Kane or Vardy in the centre forward position. This means that one of those two strikers will have to settle for starting the games on the bench.
The array of young attacking talent gives many England fans hope that the nation can perform well in France. If you bet on the Euros, England can at the time of writing be backed at 8/1 to lift the trophy on July 10 at the Stade de France following the final of the tournament.
Before Hodgson starts worrying about his starting XI he has to make a big call on whether to take Rashford to Euro 2016 with England or not. The 18-year-old has been one of Manchester United’s brightest talents this year since he broke into the first team at Old Trafford.
Rashford was unable to be part of the Turkey game as he played for United in the FA Cup final a day earlier as his side won after extra-time. He is, though, likely to be given time on the pitch against Australia when he has the chance to shine for the national team. Hodgson will then make decision about his squad after that game before he prepares his team for Portugal at Wembley in their final friendly ahead of Euro 2016.
If Hodgson decides against Rashford, it will be to protect the player for future big tournaments. However, if he was to gamble and took the youngster, he would not be the first England manager to do so. In 1998 Glenn Hoddle opted to take Michael Owen to the World Cup that year at the age of 18, while in in 2006 Sven-Goran Eriksson took Theo Walcott to the World Cup in Germany despite very little experience at senior level.