The rags to riches story of a player ‘not big enough’ for Sheffield Wednesday

Jamie Vardy in action for Leicester against Newcastle
Jamie Vardy in action for Leicester against Newcastle
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Leicester manager Nigel Pearson believes Sheffield-born Jamie Vardy is unique and insisted the striker deserves his shock England call.

The Foxes forward has been selected for the national squad for the first time just a few years after playing non-league football at Stocksbridge Park Steels and FC Halifax Town.

Vardy, who has scored four goals this season, will link up with Roy Hodgson’s squad for their friendly away to the Republic of Ireland and the Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia next month.

Last year Vardy admitted he could have quit Leicester as he struggled to adapt following a 2012 move from Fleetwood.

He was also rejected by Sheffield Wednesday as a youngster for being too small and Pearson insisted he has battled through adversity to reach the top.

“I suppose it’s an indication there are lots of good players in non-league football,” he said.

“All I’d say is that Jamie is not as straightforward a character as you would probably think he is.

“For lots of different reasons - and they’re not for discussion here. He’s had a few situations that he’s had to deal with on and off the field.

“And, as most players do from time to time, he’s suffered with confidence which had coincided with other aspects he’s had to deal with.

“But he’s a likeable lad and he’s someone I have an awful lot of time for.”

Harry Kane and Saido Berahino’s under-21 calls, along with Daniel Sturridge’s injury, had left England light up front.

Vardy joined Charlie Austin as another new striker in the squad with the pair having both played non-league football during their careers and Pearson believes while Vardy’s rise is a rare one, it is inspirational.

“It’s very easy to judge people but when you consider where he was four seasons ago at Fleetwood, it’s quite an amazing turnaround,” he said.

“When you look at his career in its entirety, it’s a good story, it’s probably the type of story that hasn’t happened in recent generations of players.

“In my era, somebody put together an England team where their roots were from non-league football, it doesn’t happen much these days.

“It’s proof that stories can still happen.”

Vardy is expected to start in Sunday’s finale at home to QPR with the Foxes having sealed Barclays Premier League survival after six wins in their last eight games.

David Nugent is out with a calf issue while Matty James (knee) is a long-term absentee and the club will not consider Danny Simpson for selection while they examine his assault conviction.