Brendan Rodgers was shy when asked by Gary Neville if he would like to head England one day, but the Leicester City coach did not rule out an international future while insisting that his loyalty is at King Power Stadium.
The former Liverpool and Celtic coach restored the Foxes to the status of four best candidates five years after their campaign for the Premier League title under Claudio Ranieri, and looks set to take them back to the Champions League this season. season.
Such a pedigree saw his name singled out as a potential replacement for Gareth Southgate in the future, while England was preparing for a grueling 18-month schedule – but Rodgers has now downplayed any immediate suggestion from the strong former Manchester United player that he could enter the hot seat of the Three Lions.
What was said?
“Oh Gary”, the Northern Irishman laughed when asked before his team’s first division clash with West Ham, before you sober up about it.
“Listen, I want to address myself internationally at some point in my career, I always said that. But I am very, very happy here.
“For me, being in Leicester City is an absolutely perfect place. I can develop players, I have great relationships with the board and the hierarchy here, and I still feel that we can make a lot of improvements.
“Gareth, he has done a great job since he arrived. England has a generation of exciting players, not just now, but those from the next decade or so. They will be competitive, but I’m not looking for where I am anymore.”
Rodgers record so far
The Foxes have thrived once more since the former Hoops boss succeeded Claude Puel in early 2019, restoring them to their place as the Premier League’s main opponents to the so-called top six.
Fifth place last season gave them a ticket to the Europa League this season – and now Rodgers has Leicester on the verge of a return to the continent’s biggest competition.
They previously competed in 2016-17 under Ranieri and then Craig Shakespeare, defeating the rest of their English rivals to reach the quarterfinals.
The bigger picture
While Rodgers needs to secure victory against West Ham – another big rival at the top of the table – to further strengthen his hand, he is likely to be keeping an eye on his side as several players compete for the England national team under Southgate.
James Maddison and Harvey Barnes could end up falling victim to a surplus of talented players in their positions, while the Three Lions try to juggle a multi-generation talent pool before this summer’s reorganized Euro 2020.
Any player who misses the cut won’t have to wait for another bite of the cherry, however, with Southgate trying to guide England back to success at the World Cup in Qatar 2022, four years after an unexpected semi-final in Russia 2018.