Gareth Southgate decided to pick James Maddison in England World Cup squad ‘weeks ago’ but Leicester midfielder missed his call this morning as Brendan Rodgers reveals he was ‘full of joy’ at training

    England manager Gareth Southgate has revealed he decided weeks ago that James Maddison would make his World Cup squad.

    The Three Lions boss also complimented the Leicester star for playing ‘as well as any attacking player in the country’.

    There were huge calls for Maddison to be included in England’s World Cup squad – and Southgate has listened

    Getty

    There were huge calls for Maddison to be included in England’s World Cup squad – and Southgate has listened

    And Southgate is delighted to have him on board

    Getty

    And Southgate is delighted to have him on board

    Maddison was the main subject of media speculation heading towards Southgate’s squad announcement for Qatar 2022, and the goalscoring midfielder has made the cut.

    Maddison has six goals and four assists for the Foxes this season and has been a constant threat around the box, pulling his side away from the relegation zone.

    And for Southgate, he was convinced weeks ago.

    “I did speak to James [today] because I think this morning there has been a lot of speculation that James wouldn’t be with us,” he said.

    “We’d decided a couple of weeks ago that we would, but we obviously weren’t going to go and tell him then.

    Meanwhile, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers revealed Maddison missed the call that surely would have caused plenty of delight during training.

    Glenn Hoddle wants James Maddison at Tottenham and in the England squad

    Southgate called to settle Maddison’s nerves, but he was busy in training

    “He had a missed call from Gareth just before we were due to train,” Rodgers said.

    “I told him to go in my office and take the call privately, he came out full of joy!”

    Explaining his decision, Southgate continued: “He’s playing really well. He’s a good player, we’ve always said he’s a good player and he’s earned the right.

    “We think he can give us something slightly different from the other attacking players we’ve got.

    “I think at various stages there have been conversations and debates about James, there’s been moments where, ahead of the Euros he wasn’t in contention with a problem with his hip and then in September it was probably a fair debate.

    Maddison has been in sublime form this season

    Getty

    Maddison has been in sublime form this season

    “But I think he’s playing as well as any of the attacking players in this country and he’s a little bit different to the others, we’ve got different types of threat and we could need that.”

    Maddison has been out of the England squad since 2019, and had his last appearance marred by a tabloid story that he was in a casino during one game.

    But as Southgate explained, these issues are far bigger for the press than the England squad, and instead talked about Maddison’s attributes.

    “That was unfortunate from his perspective that it became a bigger issue than it was for me because you end up in the papers, no one likes that, I live with it every day,” he said.

    Most goals and assists from English players in the PL since start of 21-22 season

    Kane – 38
    Maddison30
    Saka – 28
    Toney – 27
    Mount – 25
    Bowen – 24
    Foden – 23

    “I don’t take any notice of it, but for me that wasn’t the drama that it seemed to be for everybody else. 

    “He’s always been up against some really good players in that area of the pitch and there’s been moments where we were playing 4-3-3 with no number ten, that didn’t necessarily fit.

    “He’s playing exceptionally well, we like the fact that he finds those pockets of space, he gets turned, he gets forward, not enough players play forward in this day and age, and of course his set play deliver is outstanding, and he can score goals from distance which from low block defences is another attribute that is a little bit different to some of our other players.”

    Asked about Maddison’s reaction once he finally got hold of him, Southgate continued: “He was delighted. 

    “I had some very difficult calls that were emotionally at the other end of the spectrum so it was nice to give myself a little bit of an enjoyable end to that.

    “I’m excited about going to a World Cup, it’s my fourth and that’s a privilege and an honour, and all of those calls, the difficult ones and the enjoyable ones were a reminder of what it means to the players.”

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