World Cup looms but Vardy eyes prospects

England striker Jamie Vardy will check out non-league prospects at his V9 Academy before heading to the World Cup.

England's Jamie Vardy during the training session at St George's Park, Burton. .

Having risen from non-league in Sheffield with Stocksbridge Park Steels to become a Premier League champion, the 31-year-old Leicester forward launched the academy in 2016 to help give players outside the Football League a chance to follow in his footsteps.

Six players from the V9 Academy broke into the professional game last year, with Danny Newton the standout performer having been named player of the year by both Stevenage’s fans and players.

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The second season of the academy kicks off at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus on June 3, with Sheffield-born Vardy and his family going to the showcase matches as it comes to a close on June 8 – the day after England take on Costa Rica.

Gareth Southgate’s men have their final bit of downtime before heading to Russia following the Elland Road friendly and the former Sheffield Wednesday youngster will use it to run his eye over the academy’s non-league hopefuls.

“After last year’s success, I wanted to build on what we achieved last summer and having watched Danny’s and (Peterborough defender) Alex (Penny)’s career develop and unfold this season I knew we had to be back this summer,” Vardy said of the academy he funds.

“Gareth and (Football Association technical director) Dan (Ashworth) have been extremely supportive of V9 and what I set out to achieve since day one.

“My focus is 100 per cent on the World Cup with England but I must admit I’ve been keeping tabs on what players we have been signing for V9 and I can’t wait to see them in action next week.”