Watford boss Roy Hodgson believes Leicester striker Jamie Vardy could still play for England at this year’s World Cup.
The 35-year-old, who comes up against Hodgson’s Watford side on Sunday, called time on his international career in 2018, having scored seven goals in 26 games.
Vardy has remained an elite Premier League striker and has stayed in the goals, even if he has struggled with injuries this season.
Hodgson believes Vardy’s pace is a unique asset and that with the World Cup starting a week after players are in league action, he would be a good fit if other attackers were injured.
He said: “Yes, why not? The thing with Gareth (Southgate) and Steve Holland, they follow everything and everybody. They are not people with an agenda.
“Like I tried to be as England manager, you keep an open mind, not writing anybody off.
“And Jamie has got one clear advantage in what he brings as a forward is often very different to what other forwards do.
“Gareth will be considering and thinking that, even if they didn’t bring him as their number one man, they could still use him in certain games.
“So that wouldn’t surprise me for one moment. I don’t know if he’s retired forever or just taken a pause.
“But I’d like to think they will keep watching him because he’s a good guy and a good footballer – and all good guys and good footballers should never be dismissed from consideration.”
Vardy won 14 of his caps under Hodgson between 2015 and 2016 and the 74-year-old has happy memories of working with him.
“I mean, Jamie Vardy is a guy that he really is what you see. It’s enthusiasm. It’s work rate. It’s desire. Talent, of course,” he said.
“I mean, you don’t play for England without talent. But I found him really, really good to work with.
“Unfortunately, of course, a lot of the time we played, his major strength, which is, you know, running in behind people and stretching defences, we often played against packed defences where there was no space to run behind.
“But he did very well, I thought, for England. He scored a vital goal for us against Wales, which helped us to move to the next stage.
“And I found him a joy to work with. I’m always pleased to see him, because he’s got that smile on his face.
“And it’s a credit to him really that – well, perhaps a little bit like I was saying earlier – his start, I suppose, meant that he came into the actual cauldron that little bit later.
“And he’s coming with that incredible enthusiasm and dynamism that he obviously brought with him right from the start. And it’s meant he’s had a lengthy career.
“I see he’s been injured a bit more this year. I don’t know the details of that. He could quite happily have stayed injured for this game, as far as I’m concerned. And I fear he’s decided to get himself fit for it.”