James Maddison makes England’s World Cup squad
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — James Maddison was a surprising inclusion for England when coach Gareth Southgate named his 26-man squad for the World Cup on Thursday.
The Leicester playmaker has made only one appearance for his country, coming on as a substitute in a European Championship qualifier against Montenegro in 2019. But he has been rewarded for his good form for Leicester this season, scoring six goals and providing four assists.
Still, Maddison was seen as having an outside chance to make the squad having been repeatedly overlooked by Southgate and woke on Thursday morning to widespread speculation he would miss out.
That prompted Southgate to make a personal call to the player to allay his concerns.
“I did speak to James because this morning there was a lot of speculation that James wouldn’t be with us,” Southgate said. “We decided a couple of weeks ago that he would. We weren’t going to go and tell him then.
“He’s playing really well. He’s a good player. We’ve always said he was good player. He’s earned the right. We think he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players we’ve got.”
Southgate also included Kyle Walker, despite the Manchester City defender undergoing an operation on his groin last month, while clubmate Kalvin Phillips has been picked following shoulder surgery in September.
Phillips played for the first time since that operation when coming on as a substitute in City’s League Cup game against Chelsea on Wednesday.
While Southgate was prepared to take a risk on that pair, he explained his reasons for leaving out Chelsea right back Reece James, who is recovering from a knee injury.
“He wasn’t going to be available, if everything went perfectly, until the latter stages of the tournament,” he said. “There are too many unknowns to us on that road to recover. Also I don’t think we can take a player who is not available for the group. I think that would be deemed arrogant in some circles.”
Southgate picked Arsenal defender Ben White in the absence of James, while Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has also been recalled after being dropped by England last season.
Newcastle striker Callum Wilson has also been included, along with Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher.
Southgate has relied on the bulk of the squad that led England to the final of last year’s Euros, with 19 of those players involved this time around.
Harry Maguire has benefited from his coach’s loyalty, despite being dropped by United manager Erik ten Hag and being the subject of fierce criticism from supporters of both club and country.
“He’s one of our best center backs,” Southgate said. “We’ve picked our more experienced defenders and we think that at this moment in time the younger ones have got some really good qualities, but we don’t think they’ve done quite enough to push the more experienced ones out.”
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham)
Forwards: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), James Maddison (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle)
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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
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