Jamie Vardy hopes to start for England against Italy – and touch the ball

Jamie Vardy is set to start England’s friendly against Italy on Tuesday and will aim to go one better than in his 22-minute cameo against Holland by succeeding in actually touching the ball.

Vardy replaced Marcus Rashford midway through the second half at the Johan Cruyff Arena and, despite the visitors dominating the contest en route to their 1-0 success, spent the entirety of his 20th cap harrying opponents or selflessly running the channels without ever contributing in possession.

© Getty England’s Jamie Vardy

“I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before, but I did do a lot of running,” said the Leicester striker. “I came on at a time when Holland were trying to get a goal back. As a striker you do sometimes have to sacrifice and we just want to make sure we attack as a team and defend as a team, so I had to help out the midfield as well.”

Gareth Southgate tweaked his team’s formation for the game in the Netherlands on Friday evening and played two strikers, offering Vardy and Rashford some hope that they are not competing with Harry Kane for a solitary place in the team at the World Cup this summer.

© Reuters File: Gareth Southgate

“Above all, it’s encouraging for the entire team,” added Vardy, who boasts seven goals from his last nine appearances at club level. “Going into tournaments you don’t want to have just one plan. It gives us options and the performance we put in on Friday shows we can play different formations and we might have to use that in the World Cup.

“It gives us all encouragement we can play those well. We’re still progressing. We want to make sure that, as against the Dutch, we are solid. Keeping clean sheets is always good because, with the attackers we’ve got, there are goals in the team to get us the victories.

“I’m hopeful I’ll have my chance to play from the start against Italy, but it’s up to the boss what formation he plays and which players he wants to pick, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Jack Butland is expected to start at Wembley despite Jordan Pickford’s impressive contribution to the victory in Amsterdam, with the Tottenham Hotspur duo Eric Dier and Dele Alli also likely to begin against the Azzurri at Wembley.

Jack Wilshere will miss out, but Joe Gomez will remain with Southgate’s squad despite his early exit against Holland. The 20-year-old’s replacement, Harry Maguire, was forced off late in the game but there are no major concerns over the Leicester defender.
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