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'We know his quality' - Southgate confirms Vardy could come back into England fold

5:37 PM SGT 8/11/19
Jamie Vardy Leicester City 2019-20
The in-form Leicester City striker stepped down from international duties last year, but the Three Lions boss is open to recalling him in the future

Gareth Southgate has confirmed that he has left the "opportunity open" for Jamie Vardy to return to the England squad, but does not believe his services are required at the moment.

Vardy walked away from the international scene in August 2018 to focus on his club commitments at Leicester, having earned 26 caps for his country in total.

The 32-year-old has consistently been among the Premier League's top goalscorers in recent years and heads the list at the start of the 2019-20 campaign with 10 in 11 appearances.

Vardy's electrifying form has led to calls for him to be restored to the England squad, but he was not included in Southgate's final 27-man list for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo later this month.

Despite leaving him out of the latest round of international fixtures, Southgate says he will keep monitoring the experienced forward's progress, with a view to a potential recall in the near future.

"We know his quality," Southgate told a press conference.

"I have always left that opportunity open. I don't see the point at this moment in time because the conversation I had with Jamie was around looking at younger players in that position.

"It isn't one for now but we keep monitoring that because you have a ready-made experienced player who could come in if we felt that was the right thing."

Tottenham's Harry Kane will lead the line once again as the Three Lions look to book their spot in next year's European Championships, with only one point required from their final two fixtures.

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford and Chelsea hot-shot Tammy Abraham will serve as back-up options, with the latter's Stamford Bridge colleague Callum Hudson-Odoi and Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho completing England's attack.

Jordan Pickford has also retained a spot in Southgate's squad, despite Everton's nightmare start to the new season.

The Toffees have fallen to 17th in the Premier League table and sit just three points above the drop zone after picking up only 11 points from a possible 33.

Pickford has faced his fair share of criticism for Everton's decline, but Southgate still has plenty of faith in the 25-year-old goalkeeper's ability.

"I think with everybody when they are in a team who are closer to the bottom of the table, there are going to be moments where that team are under more pressure," said Southgate.

"I thought Jordan played very well at the weekend against Tottenham. I thought his focus was good and his kicking was good, so you have got to balance it when you are judging players.

"It's not just a couple of games, it's a longer period of time and generally with us Jordan's performances have been excellent so that obviously has a bearing on how we view him."