'I believed' - Leeds United's Patrick Bamford reacts to England starting place as former Three Lions striker backs selection
Patrick Bamford says he will try to approach his England international debut as he would a Leeds United game.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has handed Bamford a start in today's game against Andorra at Wembley, as one of 11 changes from the side who beat Hungary 4-0 in midweek.
It means Whites midfielder Kalvin Phillips drops to the bench and is absent from the starting line-up for the first time in 10 England games.
His Leeds team-mate Bamford is focused on the result, meanwhile, despite the personal enormity of the occasion on the day he turns 28.
"Probably the best present I could have asked for," he said upon arrival at Wembley Stadium.
"I'm trying to treat it like any other game.
"It's a qualifier, so we've got to try and win. We know what kind of match it's going to be, but I'll try and play my normal game. Try and make sure I'm in the box. Make sure I'm there to try and impose myself on defenders."
Bamford is delighted that the day has finally arrived, having kept faith in his ability to make it happen, and hopes to make an impact in the same way Phillips has at international level.
"I believed in myself," he said.
"I kept believing and worked hard for it so I'm thankful it's come along. [Kalvin is] England Player of the Year, he's done fabulous, if I can do half of what he's done I'll be happy."
Bamford's call-up comes after a 17-goal season in the Premier League with Leeds but former England striker Ian Wright believes his all-round play is what has earned him a call up.
"Every aspect of his game he's improved," said the ITV pundit.
"With a manager who has had faith in him from Championship to this level, Bielsa stuck with him and he's improved every aspect. What he does for the team, the link-up play, running and making space for the team, is what eventually got him into the England team.
"He deserves his place. He's put the hard work on. When you see the crispness of the finishing, you realise you're at a different level and you try and raise yourself to that level. I think that's what he'll do now."
Roy Keane says Bamford's story is one for young players to take note of.
"Perseverance," he said of the Leeds man.
"There's been doubters out there, question marks if he was tough enough, if he could do it at the top level. His last game against Burnley the centre-halves roughed him up, he stuck at it and scored an important equaliser. It's an important lesson for young players, stick at it."