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Dublin: 7°C Sunday 25 October 2020

Scouting report: England's new call-ups will provide Ireland with a different challenge

It will be the 16th meeting of the sides and the first on these shores since 1995.

England are unbeaten since the World Cup.
England are unbeaten since the World Cup.
Image: EMPICS Sport

WHEN ENGLAND ARRIVE in Dublin at the weekend for the much-anticipated friendly against Ireland, there will be three new faces in Roy Hodgson’s squad.

Tom Heaton and Charlie Austin, both of whom were relegated from the Premier League, as well as Leicester’s Jamie Vardy have been rewarded for impressive individual performances throughout the campaign with first call-ups to the senior panel.

After a demanding season, it’s understandable why such international games are repeatedly regarded as purposeless exercises but this summer is different.

With no major tournament on the horizon, the main business centres around Euro 2016 Qualifiers and both sides have important outings in their respective campaigns shortly after Sunday’s clash.

With England sitting pretty in Group E, Hodgson can afford to draft in a couple of new faces for the end-of-season outings. His hand has been forced, however.

Soccer - International Friendly - Italy v England - Juventus Stadium Hodgson has plenty of options at his disposal for Sunday's game Source: EMPICS Sport

Injuries to Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge as well as the absence of Harry Kane and Saido Berahino means The Three Lions’ attacking ranks are threadbare and reinforcements were required.

If we’re being honest, there weren’t many options for Hodgson to choose from and Austin’s prolific season made his inclusion justifiable.

Vardy’s selection, on the other hand, raised a couple of eyebrows and question marks remain over whether he’s capable of bridging the gap to perform at international level.

Overall, England will bring a 23-man party to the Aviva Stadium and it’s likely we’ll see the majority given some game time over the course of the 90 minutes.

While Ireland’s resource pool is limited, our near neighbours have the luxury of being able to experiment and we’ll invariably see Hodgson adopting a trial and error approach, particularly in the second-half.

Other than the new additions, this is a relatively inexperienced England side, perhaps reflecting the new approach Hodgson has taken following another failure at the World Cup twelve months ago.

They are unbeaten since that tournament in Brazil.

Their engine room may not contain the same level of quality as it did when Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were key cogs in the wheel but the energy and dynamism this new generation brings may be the way forward.

Fabian Delph, Jordan Henderson and Ross Barkley are not world beaters, they’re far from it, but they provide the tenacity required at this stage of the season.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Hull City v Burnley - KC Stadium Despite suffering relegation, it was a breakthrough season for Heaton Source: EMPICS Sport

Having represented England at all age groups, Heaton makes the progression into the senior set-up at the age of 29. The goalkeeper was a shining light for Burnley during a season which ultimately ended in disappointment as they returned to the Championship after just one season in the top-flight.

His inclusion was described as a ‘shock’ one by many quarters and with Joe Hart firmly installed as England’s number one, Heaton will be forced to bide his time before getting his opportunity.

Nonetheless, it would be just rewards for a ‘keeper who has found his way back to the top after suffering the setback of being released by Man United after six years at the club.

Nobody can quite match the rags to riches journey of Jamie Vardy, however.

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His journey from the bottom tier of English football to the national team in the space of just four years is a remarkable one and will give other players in the lower league hope that, they too, can one day catch a break and take full advantage.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Leicester City v Queens Park Rangers - King Power Stadium Vardy was central to Leicester's revival Source: Stephen Pond

Vardy is the epitome of hard work. He may not have the natural attributes of some of his some team-mates but he makes up for it with a work rate not too many other players in the game could rival.

His boundless energy makes him a nightmare for defenders and his drive, application and determination, according to his club manager Nigel Pearson, is infectious and clearly rubbed off on the Leicester dressing room as they pulled off a remarkable escape.

Five league goals would suggest there is still work to be done but he doesn’t fit into the same mould as Kane or Austin – Vardy is far more than a striker who puts the ball in the back of the net and perhaps that was the appeal for Hodgson.

In complete contrast, Austin is an out and out goalscorer. The 25-year-old scored 18 goals this term, an incredible achievement given QPR’s enduring troubles, and his services will be in-demand this summer should he decide to leave Loftus Road.

Much like Danny Ings, who along with Kane and Berahino, are at the European U21 Championships, Austin’s capacity to adapt to the Premier League so quickly surprised many.

Soccer - England call up - file photo Austin finished behind Aguero, Kane and Costa in the goalscoring charts this season Source: Ryan Browne

Having plied his trade in the lower leagues up until this year, some quarters suggested it would be a struggle for him to make the same impression he did in QPR’s promotion-winning season.

But he defied all expectations. In each of the attacking categories in the Premier League’s end of season statistics, Austin featured towards the top.

With Wayne Rooney the only other striker in the squad for Dublin, we’re likely to catch a glimpse of Austin and Vardy in action at Lansdowne Road.

Sure, there is nothing to fear about two strikers who are just making their mark in the Premier League but both will be hungry to make an impression in the England jersey.

And both are in potent form, too.

England Squad:

Robert Green (Queens Park Rangers), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United)

Ross Barkley (Everton), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Ryan Mason (Tottenham Hotspur), James Milner (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Charlie Austin (Queens Park Rangers), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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