‘You want to be high-performance, low-maintenance’: Gareth Southgate urges James Maddison to do his talking on the pitch after being given second chance following controversial casino visit after his last withdrawal
- James Maddison must do his talking on the pitch, admits boss Gareth Southgate
- The Leicester playmaker has been recalled to the squad for upcoming qualifiers
- His selection was at risk last month as he was controversially seen in a casino
- That spotting came hours after he pulled out of that squad due to an illness
James Maddison’s return to the England squad has come with a clear message from Gareth Southgate. It is time for the 22-year-old to start making noises with his football alone.
Southgate has done the grown-up thing by selecting Maddison for his squad for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo.
The Leicester midfielder put his future selection at risk last month when he was sent home from the trip to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria with illness — only to subsequently visit a casino in the Midlands the night England lost in Prague.
Gareth Southgate (right) has urged James Maddison (left) to do his talking on the pitch
But after handing Maddison another spin of the wheel on Thursday night, the England coach made it clear what he expects from this point on.
‘I think it would be dangerous territory for me to go on a moral crusade over something I don’t think was a good decision, but was in his own time after we had released him,’ said Southgate.
‘I’m not perfect and a lot of the players that we selected have had their moments, so I didn’t think this was one to hinder him in terms of selection. But it’s not a good situation for a player when we’re talking about him in Sofia and talking about him here and he’s yet to get on the pitch for us. So, that’s the challenge.
‘You want to be high-performance, low-maintenance. I am prepared to work with players who are more difficult but you’re more likely to back those players if they’ve scored a winner for you and sweated blood for you.
‘That’s the bond you build with those players over a longer period of time.’
Southgate is yet to talk to Maddison about the incident or indeed a growing reputation for what may be generously described as over-confidence. There is no suggestion that the player is on a final warning, but his coach will hope he is starting to understand that with increased profile comes greater responsibility.
Maddison has shone for Leicester this season but has seen his attitude called into question
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish has not been called up to England squad, which has disgruntled fans
‘Well I would imagine he’s got that (message),’ said Southgate with a smile. ‘He probably didn’t realise what the consequences of going out might be and he’s not been with an England team before. He wouldn’t, perhaps, have picked up the responsibility that goes with that. So I’m sure he’s aware now.
‘The important thing is that we’ve not viewed him differently because we’ve picked him and now he’s in the mix with all those other good players that we’ve talked about to try and get in the team. So, it’s on to the football, really.’
In a squad of 27 named on Thursday, Maddison was not the only notable inclusion. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s form for Liverpool has brought its reward which means another international break twiddling his thumbs for Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
Alli’s club-mate Eric Dier and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard have also missed out.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount and Ross Barkley are in despite both having ankle injuries.
Southgate is more hopeful of Mount being fit than Barkley but if either withdraws over the weekend it seems likely that someone like Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish will get the call ahead of Alli.
‘I hope we’re always very fair and clear on why we’re selecting,’ Southgate added.
‘Dele’s back for Tottenham and is on a better path in the last couple of games, for sure. But in those No 8 positions there is huge competition. Barkley has played very well for us over the last 12 months and Maddison is also probably in that sort of area of the pitch.
‘Oxlade-Chamberlain is playing exceptionally well and has the athleticism and speed that’s different to all of those others. So, it’s just a consequence of the competition for places really. That’s what I mentioned about Jack Grealish, I think he’s a very good player, as is Dele.
Dele Alli has been left out of Southgate’s England squad again for the upcoming matches
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has also been called up after his fine goalscoring form for Liverpool
‘It’s harder when it’s someone like Dele and Jesse and Eric Dier, who have been a big part of what we’ve achieved.
‘But we think we’ve got a very, very good picture of all of the players and what they’ve done in every game, and we can only pick on what we’ve seen.’
The return to fitness of Manchester City central defender John Stones has earned him a recall but club-mate Kyle Walker has again missed out — as has Everton defender Michael Keane.