England boss Gareth Southgate backs Leicester's Jamie Vardy to end goal drought
Published 27/10/2016 | 12:11
Interim England boss Gareth Southgate has backed Ballon d'Or nominee Jamie Vardy to end his worst goal drought for almost two years.
The Leicester striker has failed to score in his last 10 appearances for club and country and was benched by Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri on Saturday.
Vardy came on as a second-half substitute in their 3-1 win over Crystal Palace after being replaced by Shinji Okazaki in the starting line up. It was the first time he had not started a Premier League game when available since March 2015.
This time last year the 29-year-old was on his record 11-game Premier League scoring streak to help Leicester win the title, although went 23 matches without scoring between September 2014 and March 2015.
Vardy has netted just three times this term - although he was nominated for the Ballon d'Or along with Foxes team-mate Riyad Mahrez on Monday having scored 24 times last season as Leicester clinched a shock title by 10 points.
"All goalscorers have periods where they are not scoring. History and records over the years shows you what they are likely to fall back into and his scoring record is phenomenal," Southgate told Press Association Sport.
"I have played with Alan Shearer when he went through the same - and Andy Cole. Over a long period of time if they have a record of one in two or one in three they will come back to that.
"You can take a small sample of games for any player but that's all it is. You have to look longer-term, especially with goalscorers. He has proven himself at every level."
Southgate selected Vardy, who has four goals in 12 caps, in his first squad for World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia with the forward a substitute in the 2-0 win over Malta.
He scored in Leicester's 2-1 Community Shield defeat to Manchester United and netted in back-to-back games against Swansea and Liverpool in August and September but has not found the net since.
The make-up of Southgate's next squad for the World Cup qualifier with Scotland and friendly against Spain in November is unlikely to change greatly meaning Vardy could still feature despite his lack of goals.
Southgate is wary about disrupting the group too much, along with the Under-21 squad, and suggested those with the Young Lions may have to wait for a senior call-up as they prepare for Euro 2017.
"We have to think carefully about that because when you do move a player up it does change the dynamic for them," said Southgate, speaking during a visit to Sheffield to see new football centre SGP Graves as part of the Football Association's new Parklife project.
"That group are going very well as a core and starting to look forward to the Euros and I don't want to disrupt that too much unless they are coming in to play or we think it's absolutely the right thing.
"There are a lot of other players around who are outside of the Under-21 group who we also have to watch closely."