Leicester striker Vardy's chance to shine for England
In-form Leicester striker can prove that he deserves England place on merit
ENGLAND v ESTONIA
England's man of the moment isn't your usual suspect.
He trails Three Lions captain Wayne Rooney by 50 international goals.
He doesn't carry a nation's hopes as the next big thing, like Harry Kane does.
And he certainly isn't seen as a better long-term alternative than Theo Walcott.
But Jamie Vardy stands head and shoulders above his fellow countrymen at the moment.
No Englishman has fired up the imagination in the Premiership as much as the Leicester City striker.
So much so, that when Roy Hodgson mulls over the starting line-up against Estonia in a Euro 2016 Group E qualifier at Wembley tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Vardy is in line to front the assault.
Injuries have pushed him slightly up the pecking order.
Manchester United's Rooney has been ruled out of the game, while Liverpool's Danny Ings is a doubt because of injury.
Depending on the tactical formation Hodgson has in mind, it leaves Vardy in a straight fight with Spurs' Kane and Arsenal's Walcott for one or two places in England's frontline.
Some would argue that Vardy, 28, has earned the right for a starting spot to prove his worth, especially since the Three Lions have already clinched their ticket to Euro 2016.
Even if he's not picked against Estonia, surely he will see some action against Lithuania in their final group game on Tuesday morning.
Seven goals in eight league appearances for the Foxes have seen him climb to the top of the Premiership goal-scorers chart, ahead of established marksmen such as Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez.
When you compare Vardy to his EPL compatriots, it is a no-contest.
Rooney's struggles at Manchester United are well-documented, and he is by no means an automatic inclusion even if he is fit.
Kane, last season's brightest English star who is going through a troubled start, has only one goal under his belt for his club.
Ings is just starting to get a run of games for Liverpool, while Walcott has only recently moved up a gear or two at Arsenal.
Vardy hit the ground running, and continues to display the form that mirrors Leicester's position of strength in the English top tier.
Fifth in the table, the Foxes are just three points off the summit, and have outscored every Premier League side bar leaders Man City.
He is quick, tireless and runs so much during games that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho once pulled him aside to ask him if he ever stops.
Hodgson knows all about his grit and talent, having tracked him when he was manager at West Brom.
Vardy's story is one of pluck and fortune. The 1.78-metre forward was rejected by Sheffield Wednesday as a teenager because he was deemed too small to make the grade.
When he received his first cap in June this year, as a substitute in a 0-0 friendly draw with Republic of Ireland, it came on the back of his outstanding form as he helped Leicester escape relegation by the skin of their teeth.
It also capped a stunning rise from making medical splints at a Sheffield factory five years ago to supplement his football income, and playing non-league football as recent as 2012.
Four months since his international debut, Vardy hasn't faded into oblivion as widely expected.
Instead, he is beginning to threaten the places of the more illustrious names in the England team.
And he is surely there on merit.
INJURED ROON TO RECEIVE GOLDEN BOOT
50 Wayne Rooney scored his record 50th goal in his 107th appearance for England.
England captain Wayne Rooney will miss his side's last two Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania due to an ankle injury, manager Roy Hodgson revealed yesterday.
The striker, who last month became England's all-time leading goal-scorer, has missed three days of training after injuring himself during Manchester United's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in the Premier League last Sunday.
In his absence, Chelsea centre back Gary Cahill will captain Hodgson's side against Estonia at Wembley tomorrow morning (Singapore time), with England having already qualified for next year's tournament in France after winning all of their eight Group E games to date.
"It's a disappointment for Wayne, of course," manager Hodgson said. "He's not the type of player who likes to miss a game, but unfortunately he received a knock against Arsenal late in the game.
"We've been waiting for the ankle to settle down. It's settling down very well, but we don't want to risk him tomorrow (Friday).
"He's got lots of important Manchester United games ahead and I would be devastated if we pushed him out there and something happened to increase the problem with the ankle, so we've decided it's better if he doesn't play in this game."
Despite the injury, Rooney, 29, remained with the squad this week.
The Football Association is honouring the England skipper for breaking Sir Bobby Charlton's scoring record last month before the match against Estonia.
Rooney surpassed Charlton's 49-goal tally with a penalty against Switzerland last month.
The 1966 World Cup-winning forward will present Rooney with a golden boot, and a 20-metre x 20m surfer flag with an image of the striker on it will be passed over fans prior to kick-off.