James Maddison 'could make his first England start' against Ukraine

James Maddison ‘could make his first England start’ against Ukraine, after the Leicester man reportedly lined up alongside Harry Kane in training ahead of Sunday’s Euros qualifier at Wembley

  • England will face Ukraine in a Euros qualifier at Wembley on Sunday
  • James Maddison ‘could make his first international start’ in the game
  • He has reportedly line up alongside Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka in training 

Leicester midfielder James Maddison could be in line to make his first England start against Ukraine on Sunday.

The 26-year-old made one appearance for his country off the bench in 2019 and has since not got a look-in amid a plethora of attacking options for Gareth Southgate.

Maddison did make the squad for last year’s World Cup campaign in Qatar, but did not play any part in the tournament after missing the first two games through injury and failing to make it off the bench thereafter.

His fortunes could be about to change, though, with the Telegraph reporting he has been lining up alongside Harry Kane and Buakyo Saka in recent training sessions, an indication he may be in line for a first appearance in the staring XI.

It would be well-deserved after an excellent season for the midfielder. He is Leicester’s joint top scorer in the league this season despite missing several games through injury and  has been a rare positive in a disappointing season for the Foxes.

James Maddison could be in line for a first ever England start against Ukraine on Sunday

If Maddison did come into the side, it would likely to be replace Jack Grealish, who played well enough in England’s 2-1 win over Italy in Naples on Thursday but did miss a very straightforward chance at the end of the first half.

There will likely be other changes to Southgate’s side, with Luke Shaw unavailable after being sent off in Italy and Jordan Henderson likely to return after being unavailable though illness.

Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell will likely replace Shaw at left back, while Kalvin Phillips could make way for Henderson.

Despite the situation back home for England’s opponents on Sunday, the manager was keen to emphasize it was just another game for his players, as he said in a press conference ahead of the game: ‘We, of course, have huge sympathy with what’s going on and support for what’s going on.

Gareth Southgate insisted Sunday’s clash is ‘just another game of football’ despite the situation in Ukraine

‘But tomorrow is a game of football and we are fully focused on trying to win the game.’

When asked about England securing their 50th win under Southgate in Naples, the manager replied: ‘It means we have a chance to make it 51 tomorrow – that’s all I am focussed on.

‘The past is irrelevant as is what we have done up to now. I am just focused on tomorrow’s game.

‘We need to win. We need to be on six points when we leave Wembley tomorrow. If we are going to be considered a really top team we have to back up our performance in Italy and elements of our performance at Wembley tomorrow.’

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