England learned a lot from their recent two friendlies about their squad and what will be right for them come the summer in France for the 2016 European Championships. However, if they want to go far in the tournament, Roy Hodgson needs to utilise Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy in the right way to get the very best out of him and what he gives the team.
The 29-year-old was excellent in both games, grabbing a goal in each and looking like a real threat on the international stage, something that not everyone predicted. His pressing style, his relentlessness and his eye for a goal really stood out, giving opposition defenders the run around whenever he was on the field.
His impact in the game against Germany was clear. When he came on, the slow and tiring World Cup winners' defence was too lethargic to keep up with the spring chicken that has terrorised the Premier League this season. He forced mistakes and made them look like amateurs at times by the way he was playing.
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Against the Dutch, he gave the defenders a nightmare but found himself less involved in proceedings. The Netherlands were much more content to sit a little further back, which limited his impact even though he still grabbed his goal.
This is also something we've seen in the Premier League this season, with the majority of his goals coming at the start of the year. That was when teams were still willing to attack Leicester with intent and they would be caught by a swift counter, that usually ended in a Vardy goal.
The second half of the season hasn't quite been the feast it had been, but look at the teams he has scored against since the turn of the year. Liverpool, Arsenal and Stoke are all sides that want to play with the ball, want to control possession and get forward, leaving the gaps for Vardy to sneak in behind.
That's exactly what Hodgson needs to see and implement correctly. Vardy is a superb counter-attacking option, certainly the best England have and probably better than most of the other countries in the competition, so make sure he makes the biggest impact.
Against the bigger teams, who are going to come on to England and dominate the ball, consider starting him. He'll be a pest for those big name players to deal with, he's a great outlet option and gives England the choice to sit a little deeper and spring out of defence with real pace.
If he doesn't, he has to be the first option off the bench as tired legs would dread the thought of him coming on. He should also be rested for games against teams England are expected to dominate. Especially in the group stage, Hodgson's men are likely to have the majority of the possession and that's not Vardy's style, someone like Harry Kane or Wayne Rooney that can hold the ball and are much more of a threat in the air stand a better chance.
Should Hodgson get this right, it would show how surprisingly deep options-wise England are and they could be a real dark horse for the tournament. And we all know if Vardy's involved, there's always a chance that we could be having a party.
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