Jamie Vardy’s record scoring run will encourage Premier League clubs to scour for further hidden gems, according to fellow non-League graduate Chris Smalling.
Manchester United centre-back Smalling looked on as England colleague Vardy opened the scoring for Leicester City after 24 minutes of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium.
By netting for the 11th consecutive Premier League match, Vardy surpassed the previous best mark of 10 set by United great Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Following a memorable tussle with ex-Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town striker Vardy, former Maidstone United defender Smalling expects more of their ilk to be given a chance at the highest level.
“With Jamie’s success, I think you will see clubs having a little bit more of a look in non-League for players,” he said.
“If you can find some sort of hidden gems in local or non-League football, I think it would be a no-brainer to give them a chance.
“It’s one job getting here, but it’s 10 times harder making sure you stay here.
“There is so much competition and this club is always seeking the best players so I think you have got that drive to make sure that you deserve your place in the team.
“If you do have a bad game, then you can look back and see how far you have come. For example, we didn’t have changing rooms in non-League football like the ones we see nowadays. Sometimes I’d be better off getting changed in my car.”
Smalling paid tribute to Vardy, who he believes has the quality and character to build lasting success on his current purple patch.
“Jamie is such a laid-back character,” he added.
“Everyone is talking about him and he is doing great things this season, but you can tell he is the kind of lad that is not going to change. He takes everything in his stride.”