Danny Murphy has insisted James Maddison ‘has to go’ to the World Cup, as the talkSPORT pundit named his 26-man England squad.
All eyes are on Gareth Southgate ahead of the official announcement on Thursday – which we will bring you LIVE on talkSPORT at 2pm.
Some positions have been made easier to pick due to injuries to key players, including Reece James who will be left at home – which has clearly left the Chelsea man unhappy.
But there’s still plenty of competition for places in Southgate’s squad and the debate will continue to rage on until the final list is announced, with a host of in-form Premier League stars making late bids to be on the plane to Qatar.
But do the likes of Newcastle duo Callum Wilson and Dan Burn, Brentford striker Ivan Toney or Tottenham full-back Ryan Sessegnon get a place in Murphy’s side?
The former Liverpool and Spurs star offered his verdict on who should represent the Three Lions at the World Cup, and he was very clear on one player in particular…
“I’d take James Maddison 100 per cent,” He told White and Jordan on talkSPORT. “Absolutely 100 per cent. He’s the most creative English player in the Premier League at the moment.
“I’m not sure if he will go and it would be a big turnaround for Gareth if he does, because he’s not played in any squads recently, or for quite a long time, but he just keeps playing well.
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“He has to go. I don’t see for a footballing reason why you wouldn’t have him. If he doesn’t go, it feels to me that it’s not a football decision and there’s just something about him Gareth doesn’t quite take to.”
Asked about the other calls facing Southgate in defence, midfield and in attack, Murphy said: “I think Trent [Alexander-Arnold] will be in, even if Kyle [Walker] is fit because it looks like the way Gareth wants to play is three centre-halves. With Reece James missing and Walker on the edge [of fitness], it looks like Trent will be in.
“I’d take a risk with Walker, because I think he offers so much with his pace and experience.
“I’d take [James] Tarkowski over [Conor] Coady, I think he’s more of a presence. I think Gareth will take Coady, though.
“It’s about balance, you want the majority of your group playing regularly and in form. There’s always going to be one or two risks you take and there’s always going to be one or two players you take who you trust, you know what they’re about and they’ve never let you down – so therefore you ignore their current predicament.
“[Harry] Maguire will be the obvious candidate for that, and I think he will go even though he’s hardly played, because Gareth trusts him so much and he’s never let England down.
“I don’t see how you can put [Kalvin] Phillips in. If you’re taking a risk with Walker, that’s one, if you’re taking a risk with Maguire in terms of he’s hardly played, that’s two – how many do you want to risk?
“I don’t think Phillips has started a match, has he? He hasn’t played and he’s been injured. I’d take [Jordan] Henderson still and I’d take [Conor] Gallagher from Chelsea over Phillips – he’s got legs, passion and he’ll get you a goal, and he’s playing.
“I’d take [Callum] Wilson and I’d also take [Marcus] Rashford. He can cover the centre-forward position and he can play wide, he’s scoring goals and playing well for Manchester United.
“I think [Tammy] Abraham will go, even though he’s had a poor season for Roma. He’s a terrific talent and Gareth has picked him in all the squads leading up to this one. So someone I’ve picked will probably miss out.
“But this is the squad I’d pick, because there’s so much energy and creativity in that team, every position is covered and the majority of my players are playing regularly and playing well.”
Murphy then added before reeling off his list: “I tell you what, I’m glad I’m not a manager!”
Danny Murphy’s England World Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope
Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Ben White, Eric Dier, James Tarkowski, John Stones, Tyrick Mitchell
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher, James Maddison
Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Callum Wilson, Marcus Rashford
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