Gareth Southgate reveals he decided TWO WEEKS AGO that James Maddison would be going to the World Cup with England after confirming the Leicester star’s place in his 26-man squad
- Gareth Southgate has named his 26-man England squad for the Qatar World Cup
- Leicester’s James Maddison is included despite fears he would miss out
- Southgate says he decided that Maddison would be in his squad two weeks ago
- LIVE BLOG: Follow all the reaction as Southgate names his final World Cup squad
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
Gareth Southgate says he decided two weeks ago that James Maddison would make it into his England World Cup squad after confirming the Leicester star’s place on Thursday.
Southgate has officially announced his 26-man squad ahead of the upcoming tournament in Qatar, which begins for them against Iran on November 21, and Maddison has made the cut following widespread debate around his chances.
Newcastle striker Callum Wilson was another controversial choice from the Three Lions boss, with fans expressing their dismay that Brentford’s Ivan Toney missed out, while AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori’s absence has also sparked anger online.
Gareth Southgate decided two weeks ago to include James Maddison in his World Cup Squad
Maddison was one of 26 players included in England’s World Cup squad on Thursday afternoon
Despite only earning one cap for England up to this point, many were campaigning for Maddison to head to Qatar amid his rich vein of form for Leicester, which has seen him score six goals in 12 Premier League games this season.
In the end that was enough to win over Southgate, who revealed at a press conference on Thursday that the 25-year-old’s varying qualities to the other attackers at his disposal made him a must-have.
‘Look, he’s a good player. We’ve always said he’s a good player. He’s earned the right,’ Southgate said at St George’s Park.
‘We think he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players we’ve got, so I think at various stages there have been conversations and debates about James.
The Leicester star has been in superb form this season, scoring six goals in 12 league games
‘I think September was probably a fair debate, but he’s playing as well as any of the other attacking players in this country, and he is a little bit different to the others. We’ve got different types of threat, and I think we could need that.’
When asked if he has spoken with Newcastle’s Wilson, Southgate continued: ‘I haven’t had the chance with Callum, [but] I did speak to James because I think this morning there was a lot of speculation that James wouldn’t be with us.
‘We decided a couple of weeks ago that he would but we obviously weren’t going to go and tell him then.’
Maddison is set to experience his first major tournament at international level, having only previously featured for England in Euro 2020 qualifying.
The Coventry-born midfielder will undoubtedly be delighted to have earned a place at the World Cup, but Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed he initially missed Southgate’s phone call.
‘He had a missed call from Gareth just before we went training and I said to him to pop into my office and make the call back privately,’ said Rodgers.
Maddison has only earned one England cap, coming in a Euro 2020 qualifier vs Montenegro
But that could be set to change after Southgate confirmed his place in his World Cup roster
‘He then came out full of the joy of the world. It was a great moment for him. There was happiness and relief. I’m sure there were lots of thoughts going through his mind.
‘It’s wonderful news for him and his family and I’m delighted for Gareth to have that talent available at such a great tournament. His level of consistency, his work ethic, his talent and what he’s proven over the last few years has swung the decision.
‘Gareth looked at it with logic and saw a player who could really help the squad. It was really good management.
‘He is a fantastic player, one of the best in the Premier League, and I’m delighted. He has always had that desire to improve.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers revealed Maddison initially missed Southgate’s phonecall
‘The most important thing, having only won one cap, was to get into the squad. Once he gets there you never know what will happen. Sometimes luck goes your way.
‘He’ll have training and opportunities to show what he can do. There are other top players there but he is in the mix. England have a top player who has developed and improved, and been in form for a couple of seasons.
‘He has played all across the front line and in midfield, to a really high level.’
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