Why a Leicester City prospect could have Hart and England upset

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Once on the books of Arsenal, recently retired Lithuania striker Tomas Danilevicius may not have much of a reputation on English shores, but he’s something of a legend in his homeland.

A tally of 19 goals in 71 outings for the national team has him ranked as Lithuania’s all-time top goalscorer, just ahead of Antanas Lingis, who hung up his boots way back in 1938.

With that kind of competition, there is little to suggest that current Leicester City under-21 striker Simonas Stankevicius cannot become the stuff of legend for his national team.

Selected for the Lithuania squad to play England this Friday, the relatively unknown 19-year-old could be the one to upset the odds against the Three Lions at Wembley.

Joe Hart may be on a high after making a record-breaking 10 saves against Barcelona in the Champions League but he may be in for something of a surprise when lining up against this talented Foxes prospect.

Signed from Lithuanian club FK Dainava Alytus in his early teens back in 2011, Stankevicius impressed for the Leicester City under-18 side, scoring a memorable goal in a clash with Crewe that was soon the talk of social media.

With Lithuania out of the running to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil, a full-international call-up soon followed and came fully endorsed by Foxes academy director Jon Rudkin.

“To make his senior debut against Moldova was a great experience and a wonderful honour, and bodes well for his future here at the Football Club,” he told the official Leicester City website back in 2013.

“It has been pleasing and different for him this season. He’s been playing a lot as a lone striker in a different style to last season. That’s something we wanted to look at as part of his development, so it has been very encouraging.”

Graduating to the club’s under-21 squad in the years since, Stankevicius has continued to develop, scoring two goals for the Foxes in the Under-21 Premier League already this term.

The 19-year-old also gained valuable lower league experience earlier this season, with a two-month loan spell at Nuneaton in the Conference.

One again the Lithuanian prospect garnered praise, with club chairman Lee Thorn speaking in glowing terms about Stankevicius’ attributes, prior to his signing.

“He arrives with plenty of pedigree, is a powerful target man with a great awareness, physical presence, and a killer instinct in front of goal,” he told the club’s official website.

Now back at the King Power Stadium and continuing to push for a first-team opportunity, Friday’s encounter with England offers a rare chance to impress.

Capped eight times already by Lithuania at international level, the Foxes youngster will be determined to grab his opportunity with both hands.

Find a way past Joe Hart and he could just find himself featuring for Leicester in the Premier League before the season is out.

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

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.