Why Hodgson has to start his new England stars against Ireland
Roy Hodgson sparked somewhat of a furore with his latest England squad, with the Three Lions boss surprising the nation with some unlikely call-ups.
Charlie Austin will have been in Hodgson’s thoughts all season due to his fine form for QPR, but the decision to also name Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Burnley’s Tom Heaton in his squad was more of a shock.
It is important that the England boss now puts his money where his mouth is and gives the unlikely trio a start against the Republic of Ireland in the Three Lions’ upcoming friendly.
At the end of a gruelling domestic season, there is little value to subjecting the usual suspects to this friendly outing, and nothing new will be learned about the likes of Danny Welbeck and Joe Hart.
The England regulars are also unlikely to be tremendously motivated for a friendly match at the end of a long campaign.
In contrast, Austin, Heaton and Vardy will be raring to go, and despite criticism of their call-ups, they have certainly done enough to earn their Three Lions chance this term.
The QPR frontman has bagged 18 goals in 35 league games for the doomed Super Hoops, accounting for a ridiculous 43 per cent of their league goals..
Heaton has kept 10 clean sheets for Burnley, an impressive haul in a Burnley side who join QPR in heading for the Championship, and could prove a solid Three Lions back-up for Hart.
Vardy’s selection has provoked the most consternation of all, but simply regurgitating the fact he has only scored five times this season ignores the impact he has had for the Foxes.
The forward has played a key role as Leicester won seven of their final nine games to secure their Premier League survival, and it’s also worth noting he as notched eight assists this term.
If Hodgson doesn’t play his unfancied newbies, he will also face questions over exactly why he called them at all, subjecting them to the criticism they have faced without even giving them a chance.
Following the Ireland friendly, England play away in Slovenia in a Euro 2016 qualifier, a match they are 5/6 to win.
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