Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers does not believe Jamie Vardy will perform an England U-turn and step into the breach in the wake of Harry Kane’s major injury.
England captain and Spurs striker Kane is not expected to return until April after rupturing a tendon in his left hamstring that requires surgery, posing questions as to his fitness ahead of Euro 2020.
With Vardy the Premier League’s leading scorer with 17 goals, many will wonder whether he could again play for England.
Vardy, who turns 33 on Saturday, stepped back in August 2018, appreciating at the time England boss Gareth Southgate’s desire for a more youthful approach.
Southgate, however, remarked last November he was still monitoring Vardy as he is “a ready-made experienced player who could come in if we felt that was the right thing.”
With Kane absent for the March friendlies with Italy and Denmark, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Southgate could lure Vardy back.
Rodgers, though, does not see that happening. He said: “Jamie has made his decision on that. He has always been clear and I don’t see that changing to be honest.”
Yet Rodgers has no doubt Vardy could still do a job for the Three Lions. He added: “The question is not whether he can play for England, he can, there is absolutely no question about that. It is whether he wants to.”
Rodgers has noticed the benefits of a fresher Vardy not being away on international duty, with the Foxes reaping the rewards this season.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt (he is fresher),” added Rodgers. “I don’t think it’s just the playing, but sometimes it’s the travelling.
“Sometimes when you go away internationally, you might not train as much, but it is all the travelling and everything else around it.
“It has given him a chance to refresh, spend some time with his family, do some work in isolation at the club, and obviously when we start back he is always fit and raring to go.
“Any player that gets towards that stage will tell you that later on in their career, when they come out of international football and they have that extra time to recover, that definitely helps them.”
Rodgers does not see himself pushing Vardy towards a return to the England fold either.
“I had initial chats with Jamie on it when I came in,” said Rodgers. “But I am not worrying about it or encouraging it.
“It will always be up to him, but he’s OK with what he’s doing.”
Vardy goes into Saturday’s King Power clash with Southampton three goals shy of scoring 100 in the Premier League.
Rodgers feels a hat-trick is not beyond Vardy, who scored three times when Leicester beat the Saints 9-0 in their last meeting in October.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that he is capable of that,” said Rodgers.
“They’ll be worried about Jamie. When he goes into every game, he is such a threat.
“So yeah, it would be a nice way for him to celebrate, of course, but then Jamie is very much a selfless player.
“He is very much about the team, and if the team can win, then it’s probably more important to him.”