Emile Heskey: ‘I’d start Vardy over Kane in crunch last-16 clash’

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Emile Heskey has plenty of experience at international tournaments with England – having played at two European Championships and a pair of World Cups. And the legendary striker has backed Leicester City man Jamie Vardy, telling Ladbrokes News, “I’d start Vardy over [Harry] Kane.”

Heskey was speaking at the Ladbrokes #ForTheFans event, as England played out a cagey 0-0 draw against Slovakia, but while Vardy failed to find the net against Jan Kozak’s men, the former England hero is backing him to remain in the Three Lions’ starting XI.

Heskey told us: “Vardy looks more suited to the games we’ve played in France, and I’d stick with him over Kane. He’s a legend for Leicester and can become one for England”.

England v. Portugal? Yes Please!

Roy Hodgson’s men finished Group B in second spot behind Wales, with the possibility of facing Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in the last 16 now a possibility. But Heskey thinks that could be just the tie that England need.

“Portugal would give us the space to go and attack, and the same is probably true of Austria. That suits us better than playing a defensive team like Slovakia.”

“We’ve struggled to break down these very solid, cautious teams but if we play someone who likes to attack, Vardy, Sturridge etc. – they can use that great pace they have on the counter-attack.”

Roo could also be key

As well as hailing Vardy for his “incredible goalscoring record”, England hero Heskey singled out captain Wayne Rooney as one of the most influential members of Roy Hodgson’s side. “Rooney is key. He’s a wonderful player, and very underrated by some.”

And the Man United man’s leadership qualities were also part of his focus, with Heskey telling us: “Wayne is a natural leader and he’s also been brilliant at slotting into midfield. But if he’s not on the pitch, someone else needs to step up and take on the role of leader.

He continued: “Nobody did that against Slovakia. There need to be more big characters on the field who make their voices heard.”

Roy’s Boys need to up the tempo

However, Heskey believes that England could be more dynamic. “We don’t attack quickly enough and focus too much on keeping possession. You look at France or Spain, they really go at defences – we need more of that.”

“We’re still getting to grips with this tournament and we need to attack more. England have the quality to reach the semis, but right now I think they might be heading home after the quarter-finals.”

“England have so much energy in the likes of Vardy, Kane, Sturridge, Rashford and a young side who don’t get tired easily. We have to use that to our advantage.”

England can reach the semis – if they improve

Despite a frustrating outing against Slovakia, Heskey feels England can still have a successful Euro 2016 – but to do so they need to improve quickly.

The former Leicester City man remarked, “Before the tournament, I expected England to reach the semi-finals. I’d probably be satisfied with the quarters now, though. We’re still feeling our way into the tournament.”

“We have so much quality in the squad that on our day we’re a match for anyone – just look at the 3-2 win in Germany. But the team need to find their best form quickly if we expect to get beyond the quarters.”

Ladbrokes Latest Betting:

Jamie Vardy specials:

Jamie Vardy to start England’s next Euro 2016 game – 4/6

Jamie Vardy to be England’s top Euro 2016 goalscorer – 9/4

England – Euro 2016 Stage of Elimination:

Last 16 – 11/4

Quarter-Final – 11/10

Semi-Final – 9/2

Final – 9/1

Winner – 9/1

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.