Drinkwater ready for ‘different’ challenge with England

Date published: Wednesday 23rd March 2016 12:54

Danny Drinkwater is refusing to get carried away, despite potentially finishing the season with a Premier League winner’s medal and an England squad place for Euro 2016.

Drinkwater’s debut inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s squad comes on the back of a number of consistently high level of performances for Leicester – with the Foxes currently five points clear atop the Premier League table.

The former Manchester United youngster is now looking to follow in the footsteps of team-mate Jamie Vardy, the forward who made his England debut nine months ago in recognition of his goalscoring form and remains in the squad for the friendly double-header against Germany and Holland.

With a potential Premier League winners medal beckoning and a place in England’s European-Championships squad now in his grasp many would expect Drinkwater’s impending international debut to be the icing on the cake, but he is remaining level-headed for now.

“We have still got quite a bit to go in the season so the cake isn’t really made yet,” he said.

“But we are getting there definitely. My concentration is with England and it will be until the games finish on Tuesday and then we’ll focus back on Leicester.

“Everything back at Leicester is good. We left it in a good place but we focus on the Three Lions. It (having two Leicester players in the squad) is a good time for the club and reflects well on how we are doing this season.

“It is a good reflection on what the club is achieving right now.”

Drinkwater has starred in Leicester’s midfield this season alongside summer signing N’Golo Kante – who has also been rewarded with his maiden France call-up – and is now ready to stake his claim for a place in the heart of Hodgson’s England side.

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

“It is about doing your job, really, 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.

“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. It can only benefit us.”

Having risen through United’s fabled academy, Drinkwater never managed to make a single appearance for the senior side – instead going out on loan on four different occasions before joining Leicester in January 2012.

During his time at Old Trafford the 26-year-old appeared for England’s Under-18s and Under-19s but then fell out of the international picture.

Now Drinkwater is on the brink of collecting a senior cap and wants to show others not to give up on their hopes of representing their country.

Asked if his call-up could give encouragement to other players who have missed out at other age levels, he said: “I guess so and if it does, then brilliant.

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

“I’ve played a few times for the under-age groups where a few more players have come through. But it always helps knowing one of the lads so well like Vards. It’s been good.”

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