Gareth Southgate reveals he decided TWO WEEKS AGO James Maddison would go to the World Cup with England after confirming the Leicester star’s place in his 26-man roster
Gareth Southgate says he decided two weeks ago that James Maddison would be in his England World Cup squad after confirming the Leicester star’s place on Thursday.
Southgate have officially announced their 26-man roster for the upcoming tournament in Qatar, which starts for them against Iran on November 21, and Maddison has made the cut after widespread debate over his chances.
Newcastle striker Callum Wilson was another controversial choice of the Three Lions boss, with fans expressing their dismay at Brentford’s Ivan Toney missing him, while the absence of AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori has also sparked anger online.
Gareth Southgate decided two weeks ago to include James Maddison in his World Cup squad
Maddison was one of 26 players included in England’s World Cup squad on Thursday afternoon
Despite earning just one cap for England so far, many have campaigned for Maddison to move to Qatar amid his wealthy form for Leicester, which has seen him score six goals in 12 Premier League games this season.
In the end, that was enough to win Southgate, who revealed at a press conference on Thursday that the 25-year-old’s varying qualities to the other attackers at his disposal made him a must-have.
“Look, he’s a good player. We’ve always said he’s a good player. He has earned the right,” Southgate said in St George’s Park.
“We think he can offer us something different than the other attacking players we have, so I think there have been talks and debates about James at different stages.
The Leicester star has been in excellent form this season, scoring six goals in 12 league appearances
“I think September was probably a fair debate, but he plays as well as any other attacking player in this country, and he’s a little different from the others. We have different kinds of threat, and I think we may need them.’
When asked if he has spoken to Newcastle’s Wilson, Southgate continued: “I haven’t had the chance with Callum, [but] I spoke to James because I think there was a lot of speculation this morning that James would not be with us.
“We decided a few weeks ago that he would, but of course we weren’t going to tell him then.”
Maddison will experience his first major tournament at international level, having previously played for England in Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The Coventry-born midfielder will no doubt be happy to have earned a place in the World Cup, but Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed he initially missed the call from Southgate.
“He had a missed call from Gareth just before we started training and I told him to come to my office and call back privately,” Rodgers said.
Maddison has only earned one cap for England and will be in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro
But that could change after Southgate confirmed his place on his World Cup roster
“Then he came out full of the joy of the world. It was a great moment for him. There was joy and relief. I’m sure a lot of thoughts went through his head.
“It’s great news for him and his family and I’m thrilled that Gareth has that talent available at such a great tournament. His level of consistency, his work ethic, his talent and what he has proven over the years have changed the decision.
“Gareth looked at it logically and saw a player who could really help the team. It was really good governance.
“He’s a fantastic player, one of the best in the Premier League, and I’m very happy. He has always had a desire to improve.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers revealed Maddison had initially missed Southgate’s call
“The most important thing, having won just one cap, was to get into the squad. Once he’s there, you never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes luck will come your way.
“He gets training and opportunities to show what he can do. There are other top players, but he is in the mix. England have a top player who has developed and improved and has been in form for a few seasons.
“He’s played all over the front line and in midfield, at a really high level.”