England manager Gareth Southgate has explained his reasons for including Leicester playmaker James Maddison in his 26-man World Cup squad.
Maddison was initially tipped to miss out on the squad despite public pressure and an outpouring of support, but then made a surprise announcement about an hour or so before Southgate confirmed his Three Lions party. Involvement revealed.
Maddison has only been capped by England once before – way back in 2019 – but his early season form has helped Leicester overturn a difficult start to the Premier League season.
The 25-year-old has six goals and four assists to his name, although it is overall creativity, impact on the game and quality in key moments that stand out the most.
Revealing in his squad’s press conference, Southgate admitted that Maddison’s incredible recent form was the main factor behind his decision to take him.
“He’s playing really well,” Southgate said. “Look, we’ve always said he’s a good player, he’s earned the right.
“We think he can give us something different to other attacking players that we have. I think there have been different conversations and discussions about James at different stages, there were moments before the Euros when I didn’t think so. That he was in contention, he had a problem with his hip, and then September was probably a fair debate. [over his exclusion].
Compared to other attacking midfield options for England, it would have been unfair not to take James Maddison. 🦊🏴
— 90 Minutes (@90min_Football) November 10, 2022
“But I think he’s playing as well as any attacking player in this country. He’s different to the others, we have different types of threats, I think we might need him.”
One player who did not make the squad is Roma striker Tammy Abraham, who has endured a difficult few months in the Italian capital.
On his decision to drop the former Chelsea striker from his squad, Southgate said: “Tammy’s scoring form has been poor at the wrong time. It’s not a case of us being three or four weeks away from the final. The first game. Now we have ten days. [away].
“Form can be important. We don’t know any of the players whose club form we’re looking at, but until we see them in person and on the training pitch, we really don’t know.