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Jamie Vardy Talks 2018 World Cup, Arsenal Transfer Distraction at Euro 2016

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2018

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  Jamie Vardy of England looks on during an England training session at St Georges Park on May 22, 2018 in Burton-upon-Trent, England.  (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Jamie Vardy has admitted he was distracted by a potential transfer to Arsenal during UEFA Euro 2016 but insisted he is fully focused for the summer's 2018 FIFA World Cup

The Leicester City striker was an obvious pick for Gareth Southgate's 23-man England squad that will compete in Russia after netting 20 Premier League goals in 2017-18.

England @England

For the nation, by the nation. The #ThreeLions’ official @FIFAWorldCup squad announcement. https://t.co/YecUWPUZfJ

It will be his second major tournament with the Three Lions after he made one start and two appearances from the bench at Euro 2016, where England were knocked out by Iceland in humiliating fashion at the last-16 stage.

The tournament in France came hot on the heels of Leicester's remarkable Premier League title win, in which Vardy played a key part. 

The 31-year-old has conceded it was difficult to ignore a potential move to Arsenal two years, which he eventually rejected in order to stay at Leicester, per James Olley of the Evening Standard:

"It wasn't an irritation. There was just a lot of time when we were in our rooms to think about it. It wasn't something you could just put to the back of your mind. But I made my decision back then and I've not looked back since, carried on, played my football, been doing well for my club and I think that's what's got me the opportunity where I can go to a World Cup.

"The Euros was a new experience for me and the World Cup is going to be, but obviously the Euros is a major tournament as well and you know exactly what you've got coming, so you can be more relaxed about it knowing I have been there before."

England's recent record in major tournaments is dire. Two years before Euro 2016 then-manager Roy Hodgson oversaw a winless campaign at the 2014 World Cup as England were knocked out at the group stage. 

For this year's World Cup in Russia Gareth Southgate's side have been handed a group they can surely make it through.

England's manager Gareth Southgate (R) talks with England's striker Harry Kane during a training session at St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent on May 22, 2018, ahead of their international friendly football matches against Nigeria and Costa Rica. (Photo
ANTHONY DEVLIN/Getty Images

They will have to face Belgium, who are a fine side, but wins against Tunisia and Panama should see the Three Lions through to the first knockout round.

Vardy is likely to start on the bench given that his key competition for the No. 9 spot is captain Harry Kane.

The Leicester forward could play a role as a substitute, though, and he is confident Southgate has picked a squad capable of going deep at the tournament, per Olley:

"The boss has picked a lot of players who are in form and rightly so. They deserve to have their call up and he is going for it. It is a young squad, anything can happen any everyone wants to be going out there in our heads thinking we can win it. But we have to be on our game every day, making sure we are at 100 per cent and working to get as far as possible."

England's opening match is against Tunisia on June 18 at the Volgograd Arena.

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