DANNY MURPHY: James Maddison must fight with Phil Foden for No 10 role

DANNY MURPHY: James Maddison must fight with Phil Foden for England’s No 10 role and there’s NO excuse not to play Eberechi Eze against Scotland

  • I feel sympathy for No 10 James Maddison being shunted onto the left-hand side 
  • He should be battling Phil Foden, 23, for England’s central attacking midfield slot
  • While Crystal Palace team-mates Marc Guehi and Eberechi Eze are both brilliant 

I felt sympathy for James Maddison being shoehorned on to the left-hand side when he’s better suited as a No 10. 

Getting into this team is tough but after Saturday night’s experiment, the reality is he’s going to either have a good international career centrally, or not at all.

I can’t see Gareth Southgate playing both him and Phil Foden in the same team but I would like to see them fight it out for one creative spot in a more advanced position than Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham.

That’s the way I think England will carry enough attacking threat to win a major tournament. It’s a brave way to play against top opposition but it’s the best way if you want to lift a trophy.

We saw in Wroclaw that operating from a wider area doesn’t suit Maddison’s undoubted attributes, even if Gareth Southgate allowed him some freedom to roam. 

I felt sympathy for James Maddison being shoehorned on to the left-hand side when he’s better suited as a No 10 

It was not the Tottenham star’s most effective display and he was angry after being booked

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But that freedom can create a problem. 

When Maddison drifted inside, England had defensive issues. Ukraine’s goal came from a two v one against Ben Chilwell down Maddison’s side. 

You could be harsh and say Maddison should be more disciplined. 

But he’s been one of the stand-out players at Spurs by being allowed to use his technical strengths.

Being asked to do a different job when he’s not a natural athlete with the physical power to track full-backs is slightly unfair when others like Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford can do it better. 

Foden is dynamic over short distances but is similar to Maddison in being better suited to helping the team in the middle, opening up defences with either a dribble or a pass.

At City, Foden can be effective playing wide as Pep Guardiola’s team dominate possession. But for England, both he and Maddison need to be No 10s. 

I did feel for Maddison a bit on Saturday because when Foden came on, he was given that role as Ukraine defended to get a point.

Maddison was hooked for Phil Foden and he must fight the Man City man to be England’s No 10

My feeling is that England are lucky to have two excellent playmakers. I wouldn’t really mind going into a tournament with either starting. It could be based on which one of Maddison and Foden is in the better form.

But it’s important that at least one of them starts in their preferred position, and the manager will have to trust Rice and Bellingham to know when to join them in attack and when to sense danger and close the door at the other end.

Maddison can have a successful England career, but not as a wide attacker. Why should he be consigned to one role when he’s brilliant at another?

Gareth Southgate’s decision to play Marc Guehi was fully justified – he is a natural defender

Credit to Gareth Southgate. He had good options to replace the injured John Stones, including Fikayo Tomori and Levi Colwill, but his decision to name Marc Guehi was fully justified.

Guehi was excellent. He is a natural defender, knowing when to drop off and when to intercept, but can also use the ball well. He has a real chance of competing with Harry Maguire for a place alongside Stones at Euro 2024. 

He seems to be a little bit ahead of Colwill in development, which comes from regular first-team football in the Premier League. Leaving Chelsea for Crystal Palace might have looked like a risk but the reality is it’s helped him enormously to gain experience and maturity.

Southgate has seen that and shows he will give players from outside the Big Six a chance if they deserve it.

I would love to see exciting young Crystal Palace talent Eberechi Eze face Scotland on Tuesday

One player I’d like to see starting at Hampden on Tuesday is Eberechi Eze. He has been in exceptional form and looks a brilliant prospect. All he needs now is game time.

I can just about understand sticking with the tried and trusted against Ukraine with qualification points at stake but that’s not the case against Scotland. 

It will be a cracking atmosphere against a decent team but without the same pressure. There isn’t any excuse really for not giving Eze a run-out.


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