LONDON: Uncapped trio Charlie Austin, Jamie Vardy and Tom Heaton were on Thursday named in England’s squad for next month’s friendly in Ireland and 2016 European Championship qualifier away to Slovenia.
Queens Park Rangers striker Austin, 25, and 28-year-old Leicester City forward Vardy have been drafted into an attacking department depleted by Daniel Sturridge’s injury and the inclusions of Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Danny Ings in the England Under-21 squad.
“For Jamie Vardy and Charlie Austin, it’s a good opportunity for them to show us what they can do,” England manager Roy Hodgson told a press conference at Wembley Stadium.
“I don’t think anyone can deny they deserve a chance because they’ve had very good seasons for their clubs, often in difficult circumstances.”
Vardy, who has played a starring role in Leicester’s escape from Premier League relegation, was playing non-league football for Fleetwood Town as recently as 2012.
“I had watched him at Fleetwood and know he had the pace and desire to run in behind players, which is always an interesting quality for coaches,” Hodgson said.
“We’ve been impressed by his performances in the latter part of the season with Leicester.”
Austin also began his career outside England’s top four divisions. He has scored 17 league goals this season despite QPR’s relegation.
“We have always had our eye on Austin, but up to this point we have had the full quota of forward players,” Hodgson added.
“But we now have space there because of the injury to Sturridge and we don’t have Kane, Ings or Berahino on this occasion.”
Burnley goalkeeper Heaton, 29, owes his call-up to the long-term knee injuries sustained by Ben Foster and Fraser Forster.
Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Michael Carrick also miss out due to injury, but there was no recall for in-form Manchester United winger Ashley Young, who last played for his country in 2013.
Hodgson said that Young had been left out on the advice of United’s medical department, explaining that he had a “slight issue”, but praised his recent performances.
England play Ireland on June 7 in the first meeting between the countries in Dublin since rioting English hooligans caused a 1995 friendly at Lansdowne Road to be abandoned.
After a minority of England fans chanted about Irish paramilitary group the IRA during November’s friendly with Scotland in Glasgow, the Football Association has written to the 3,000 supporters travelling to Dublin underlining that such chants are “unacceptable”.
“As England manager, I’ve got to be very happy with the support we get from travelling fans,” Hodgson said.
“I seriously hope they’ll take notice of what the FA is making clear to them and I don’t expect any problems.”
After playing Ireland, Hodgson’s side tackle Slovenia in Ljubljana on June 14, when they will be seeking to preserve their perfect record in Euro 2016 qualifying Group E.