England boss Roy Hodgson insists opportunity knocks for striker Daniel Sturridge to stake his claim for a Euro 2016 starting berth when the Three Lions take on Holland at Wembley.
Prolific Tottenham forward Harry Kane and Leicester counterpart Jamie Vardy both boosted their standing by netting against world champions Germany during Saturday’s stunning 3-2 comeback victory in Berlin.
The audition spotlight now passes to former Chelsea and Liverpool marksman Sturridge, who has not featured for England since September 2014 and a 1-0 win over Norway due to a succession of career-stalling injuries.
“It is great that we are going to give Daniel a chance to show what he can do in an England shirt,” said Hodgson.
“He has always been keen to get back and show he deserves to be in the shirt and what better chance than a game at Wembley against a team like Holland.
“He [Sturridge] and [Arsenal striker] Danny Welbeck have returned from such long-term injuries, the next six weeks or so are important times for them as well. They have to build up their fitness in terms of endurance, both have come back sharp so that is very positive.”
Sturridge’s Liverpool team-mate James Milner will captain the national side for the first time as England bid to record their first victory over Holland since their 4-1 success at the 1996 European Championships on home soil.
The expectation is for Everton duo John Stones and Phil Jagielka to form a central defensive axis, while Hodgson has alluded to Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater being handed his senior international debut at some stage.
“I hinted a lot of things and sometimes I regret some of the hints I put out there,” added Hodgson. “There will be some changes, how wholesale those will be you’ll have to wait and see.”
Hodgson has also reiterated his defence of skipper Wayne Rooney after questions were asked about the 30-year-old’s future value to the side in the wake of a youthful England outfit dispatching Germany at the weekend.
Rooney – England’s all-time leading goalscorer – is currently sidelined with a knee injury, although Hodgson remains adamant that the Manchester United frontman has a big role to play in France this summer.
“I think that I have spoken enough about Wayne Rooney and I don’t have anything to add to what I have said before,” said Hodgson.
“He is the captain of the team. Before he got injured no-one was disputing his right to be captain. As far as I know he is not making any claims that he should be always on the team-sheet and no-one else would get a chance.
“As far as I understand it, he realises that there will be other players fighting for places in the team and I would be very disappointed if a man of his quality didn’t understand that.
“I don’t want to have an influence on anything that is being said or written but we are quite happy that there is a large body of players at the moment that are competing for a small number of places.”