Jack Grealish’s injury meant he did not get to show England manager Gareth Southgate what he could do on Sunday but James Maddison and Harvey Barnes both took their big chance to shine.
The Leicester duo were absolutely on fire and, as well as both getting on the scoresheet in their 2-1 win over Aston Villa, they caused a bit of havoc – especially Barnes down the left side, and chopping inside as well.
Maddison went off with a knock in the second half but his range of passing was so good to watch, with the way he took the ball under pressure and the little through balls he was playing as well.
Both of them were so positive, and they always looked forward when they got possession.
With the England manager watching on at Villa Park, they picked exactly the right moment to put in a performance like that, and with the European Championship fast approaching, this is the perfect time to hit form.
Maddison to make it, but will Barnes join him?
There is a lot of competition to get into Southgate’s squad for this summer’s rearranged Euro 2020 but I think Maddison will be one of those who makes it.
When you are fighting for your place on the plane to a major finals, it helps to have a lot of strings to your bow, which Maddison does.
As well as being a provider, he also scores a lot of goals in open play from outside the area – like he did on Sunday – and his free-kicks are outstanding as well.
Barnes has got more of an outside chance, but he cannot do much more to help his prospects than what he is doing for Leicester at the moment.
Not only is he a regular starter for a team flying high in the Premier League, he is a big reason they are doing so well – affecting games with his performances, and scoring more and more goals.
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers trusts Barnes to play in that outside-in role, starting on the left but making runs inside, and he has been making them count.
His goal against Villa was his 13th of the season in all competitions – already the most he has scored in a single campaign – but he gets in so many good goalscoring positions that he should have even more.
Like the rest of his game, though, his finishing is only getting better as he grows in confidence – and there is even more to come from him, I’m sure.
The new Vardy? The raw materials are there
The way Barnes has developed, there have been suggestions he could eventually take on Jamie Vardy’s role and play as a central striker.
We haven’t seen him down the middle for Leicester for long enough yet to know whether he could do it, but the raw materials are definitely there.
As well as his pace, Barnes has got the intelligence to time his runs and he has got the footballing brain to adapt to being a number nine if he was asked to step into that role on a regular basis.
Will he be better down the centre than he is out wide and cutting in? We won’t know until we see him in action. He’s not the finisher Vardy is yet, of course, but then who is?
The encouraging thing for Rodgers is that his Leicester side do not just rely on Vardy to get their goals any more – of their past four wins in all competitions, the old man has found the net in only one of them.
As well as Maddison and Barnes, Youri Tielemans has been chipping in from midfield and all of them have been taking responsibility for scoring goals as well as making them. That’s one of the reasons they are in the top four and they look like they will stay there.
Grealish would be in my England squad, if he is fit
Leicester have already shown they can cope without Vardy but Villa obviously missed Grealish massively on Sunday.
The bad news for Villa is that Grealish could be out for up to a month with a leg injury, and it will be such a shame if that affects his England chances now too, after the brilliant season he has had.
Like Maddison, he is an excellent footballer, but he is different in the way he carries the ball forward so well, and gets Villa up the pitch.
Grealish often makes things happen on his own, and Villa struggled with not having him to do that against Leicester.
It is a long time since they have had to cope without him in the Premier League – before Sunday, he had last missed a league game in November 2019 – but his team-mates have to step up.
There is no point in Villa rushing him back, and it won’t help him either. Grealish would be in my England squad every day of the week if he was 100% fit, and that is what his focus has to be now so he can be at his best for club and country.
Dion Dublin was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
— to www.bbc.co.uk