Euro 2016: Danny Drinkwater thirsty for England chance after circuitous route to international recognition

Frank Dalleres
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England Training Session and Press Conference
The Leicester midfielder could win his first international cap at the age of 26 (Source: Getty)

Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater insists he is ready to capitalise after being granted an 11th-hour opportunity to gatecrash England’s squad for this summer’s European Championship.

Uncapped Drinkwater has emerged as a late contender for a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad after playing a key role in the Foxes’ surprise Premier League title challenge.

The 26-year-old could get his chance in the coming days – England face Germany in Berlin on Saturday and Holland at Wembley on Tuesday – and is eager to seize it.

“I have been given a small chance here to show what I am capable of and it is up to me to take it. I’ll be hoping that if I can stake my claim for that position, then perfect,” he said.

“It is about doing your job, screening the defence. Obviously international football is going to be different, I understand that. Maybe as the ball turns over, you have look to keep it but I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Drinkwater is among a number of this season’s standout performers, along with Tottenham pair Dele Alli and Eric Dier, who could form an all-new central midfield for England at Eur 2016.

The injured Jack Wilshere could yet return to the picture, while Michael Carrick and Jordan Henderson are established candidates, leaving Hodgson needing to trim before naming his final 23.

“I don’t think England have been short of having a quality midfield but I guess having competition for places, it always helps push yourself in a way,” Drinkwater added. “It can only benefit us.”

The former Manchester United trainee has had to wait seven years to be recalled to the national set-up, having previously represented England at under-18 and under-19 level.

His circuitous route to the top included four loan spells before establishing himself at Leicester, a reminder that not every England player bursts into the team as a teenager like Raheem Sterling.

“It gives an idea that if it doesn’t happen straight away, it could always happen in the future,” he said.

Manchester City winger Sterling, meanwhile, could miss the rest of the domestic season and face a race to regain full fitness in time for the summer tournament.

Sterling suffered a groin injury in Sunday’s 1-0 derby defeat against Manchester United and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. The league season concludes on 15 May.