With a Premier League scoring record now within touching distance and a place in England’s plans for Euro 2016 seemingly there for the taking, Jamie Vardy’s life has surely never felt so exciting.
Watford head coach Quique Flores joined Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri in hailing Vardy’s talent after the 28-year-old had played a key role in helping Leicester to a 2-1 win and the club’s disbelieving fans to enjoy at least a temporary taste of being top of the table. Flores described the former Sheffield factory worker as “the best striker we have played against so far.” Given that Watford have already faced Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez on their return to the top flight, that is high praise – yet there is concern that Vardy needs to keep his feet on the ground, with the England manager, Roy Hodgson, not alone in suggesting he should not expect the national side to be redesigned for his benefit.
Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater is understandably a member of the Vardy fan club, but when asked whether his team-mate should be given the same No 9 role for England he is enjoying in Ranieri’s side, rather than the wide left position he has occupied in his two international starts so far, he backed Hodgson’s view.
“Scoring nine games in a row is world-class striker stuff and he deserves to be part of the international scene,” Drinkwater said. “His biggest threat is when he plays down the middle but there might be times when he needs to bite his tongue. International football is totally different and if [wide left] is where the manager for England wants him to play he’s going to have to deal with it.”
Like Vardy, Drinkwater has reached the Premier League via a circuitous route. Though he did not follow Vardy’s path through non-league football, he had to be patient after failing to make the first team at Manchester United, spending loan spells with Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Watford and Barnsley.
Vardy stretched his goalscoring run to nine matches – one short of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 10-game sequence in 2003 – with a penalty after Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes brought him down.
In a flashback to his rockiest days at Tottenham, Gomes gifted Leicester their first goal when he allowed a tame N’Golo Kanté shot to slip through his hands and he later apologised to Watford fans.
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