Austin and Vardy England calls inspiring stuff, but it’s sink or swim
Charlie Austin’s deserved maiden England call-up comes at something of a career crossroads for the former non-league poacher. Despite his best efforts to the tune of 17 Premier League goals, current cub QPR have been relegated for the second time in three seasons.
Joining Leicester City grafter Jamie Vardy in the Three Lions set-up for the first time ahead of a friendly against the Republic of Ireland and subsequent Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia, Austin must stay a top-flight footballer to have any hope of following up a potential international debut.
With England 2/1 chances with Coral to win all their remaining qualifiers en route to the European Championship finals in France next summer, competition for places in attack, especially from younger men like Under-21 inclusions Harry Kane, Danny Ings and Saido Berahino, is cut-throat.
Less than six years ago, Austin was playing for Poole Town in the Wessex League Premier Division. Via spells at Swindon and Burnley, his meteoric rise is now complete aged 25.
Vardy, 28, meanwhile, was firing Fleetwood Town into the Football League just three years ago, but offers more to his game than goals. Getting 10 top-flight assists to go with just four strikes shows his willingness to try for teammates.
Such a superb work ethic has clearly appealed to Hodgson, but the cynics’ view that Vardy will be the latest in the ‘token cap club’, following in the footsteps of fellow Northwest club cult heroes David Nugent (Preston) and Kevin Davies (Bolton Wanderers).
Go back 25-30 years and non-league produced a number of names that went on to great things; Les Ferdinand, Stuart Pearce and Ian Wright to name but a few.
Austin has the potential to be in the same bracket as these, though has already experienced different fortunes to Hoops predecessor Ferdinand, who once fired the Loftus Road side in fifth during the first-ever Premier League season. QPR are 3/1 shots to bounce back straight away again from their latest relegation, but look likely to be doing it without their leading marksman.
For one or both of Austin and Vardy to establish themselves in a talent pool that also contains Andy Carroll, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck, plus the youngsters, when all fit is a huge ask.
Coral betting tip: England are well worth taking at 2/1 to win all their remaining Euro 2016 qualifiers.