By 90Min
May 10, 2018

With the Premier League season coming to an end, attention is turning more and more to the little matter of who will be included in Gareth Southgate's England 23-man squad heading to Russia in June. 

One name that is almost a near definite on the squad list is Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy. However, while common thinking is that the former non-league protege should be included as an impact sub and backup to Harry Kane, I'm here to argue that Vardy should be in the starting lineup for England's opening game of the tournament against Tunisia on June 18. 

Barring injury, the 31-year-old has been included in every England squad since his debut in 2015, earning a total of 21 caps so far. In them 21 appearances, Vardy has been on the score sheet on seven occasions, including scoring the Three Lions' only goal of the game in their last outing against Italy in March. 

He also scored during his debut in a major international tournament, when he netted the equaliser against Wales in Euro 2016. Considering the striker has been used as a substitute in ten of his 21 appearances - then his goal scoring record of one in three is pretty impressive. 

Vardy has proved that he is capable of scoring goals at the highest level since his arrival into the Premier League. He has scored a total of 59 goals in 140 appearances in the league since his debut in the 2014/15 season. 

This season has been productive for the striker having scored his 20th goal of the season in the win over Arsenal on Wednesday. His record is all the more impressive considering that Leicester have been struggling to create chances - especially in more recent weeks.

Working out this season's shot conversion for England's striking options at the World Cup, Vardy comes out well on top. The Leicester man has a conversion rate of 27.3% (18 goals from 66 shots), compared to 15.4% for Kane (28 goals from 181 shots), 10.3% (six goals from 58 shots) for Marcus Rashford and 16.1% (five goals from 31 shots) for Danny Welbeck. This shows just how impressive the striker's goal scoring record is this season. 

Vardy's style of play is all about pace and endeavour. Eventhough he is now in his 30s, his pace seems to be just as quick, if not quicker than it was when he first arrived in the league. He can never be accused of not leaving everything out on the pitch at the end of a game, which is something England seem to have been lacking over recent years. Just by having Vardy on the pitch, pressing defenders from the front, may give the Three Lions that bit of spark that they have been missing. 

Vardy's constant movement will cause any defender in the world problems, and if he is playing alongside Kane his workrate and effort will give the Spurs man more time and space to do what he is best at doing - putting the ball in the back of the net. 

Leicester manager Claude Puel Seemed to encourage Southgate to play Vardy and Kane together in the competition when Sky Sports asked about it in March, citing that the different strengths that both players means that they could complement each other. 

"I think they can have a good balance because it is two players with different attributes. It is a good option for the manager," said the Leicester boss.

"It is a good choice. It is important for the national team to have different players with different attributes and I think Jamie can take the space and give good moves; a good opportunity."

The Leicester striker also offers a different option for Southgate, especially in the latter stages of the competition (should they get there). 

Vardy's England goals so far have come against some of the bigger nations around, including; Germany, Spain and Italy. Vardy has a similar domestic record against the 'big six' teams in the Premier League. His high press, counter attacking strengths may just serve as an advantage to the three lions when they face tougher opposition. 

Whether or not Gareth Southgate will decide to start Vardy in the competition remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain, that the Leicester man is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League and England team, and whenever he takes to the pitch in Russia he will never give less than one hundred per cent for the cause. 

Hopefully Jamie Vardy will be having yet another party at the end of the summer.  

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