Roy Hodgson has urged in-form Crystal Palace star Eberechi Eze to set his sights on an England debut.
Palace playmaker Eze underlined his international credentials with a superb second-half double to earn Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League success at bottom club Southampton.
The 24-year-old was reduced to a peripheral role towards the end of Patrick Vieira’s reign but has now scored three goals during three consecutive wins since Hodgson’s return to Selhurst Park.
While former England manager Hodgson stopped short of sending a message to current national team boss Gareth Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland, he is excited by Eze’s talent and potential.
Asked if the former QPR man is capable of representing his country at senior level, the 75-year-old replied: “Yes, why not?
“I’m not pushing for that. I never push in press conferences and say I think this player in the team I’m coaching is so good he should be playing for England. National coaches don’t need that. They watch all of our games.
“The people watching for Gareth Southgate at the moment will be making their assessments and they don’t need any help or advice from me on that subject.
“But, if you’re talking about a player’s ambition, young as he is, a massive possibility to keep improving and keep doing well with every Premier League game he plays, I think if I was him I would be saying, ‘I’m so good I’m going to make that my ambition’.
“But the only way he’ll do that is by producing more and more of these performances and hoping that Steve Holland and Gareth Southgate watch him and come to the same conclusion that this is a player that can help us out.”
Uncapped attacking midfielder Eze was set to be named in Southgate’s preliminary squad for Euro 2020 before suffering an Achilles injury and was reportedly on an initial 55-man list for last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
The former England Under-21 international volleyed the Eagles ahead in the 54th minute at St Mary’s before quickly adding a fine second from range.
Palace’s recent resurgence – successive victories over relegation-threatened sides Leicester, Leeds and Saints – has propelled the club to the verge of safety on 36 points with seven games to go.
Hodgson has been impressed with the response of his players since he was reappointed just under four weeks ago following Vieira’s sacking.
And he encouraged his squad to kick on and ensure survival in emphatic fashion.
“I find myself here because of a really down period in the club’s season that prompted the owners to take some sort of action and we were parachuted in to do a job, which is what we’re trying to do,” said Hodgson.
“But I must say this group of players is making that job very easy for us.
“They’ve got to set themselves a bit of a target now and think we don’t want to slip back and if we are going to survive, we don’t want to do it because we’re clinging on and hoping we can get a point in the final game.
“We’re going to do it because we’re producing the sort of football we’ve been able to produce these last three games.”