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England: Southgate explains Maddison decision for World Cup squad

James Maddison
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The Leicester City star has returned to the Three Lions squad ahead of the tournament.

Gareth Southgate has insisted James Maddison “earned the right” to travel to World Cup with his England teammates.

The Leicester City star has found a brilliant start to the new season, taking his total 2022 goal contributions to 22.

Southgate came under fire for omitting Maddison from his national team picks in September. However, he believes the 25-year-old deserves to play in World Cup for the Three Lions.

 “He’s playing really well. He’s a good player, we’ve always said he’s a good player. He’s earned the right,” the England boss said.

“We think he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players that we’ve got.

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“We like the fact he finds those pockets of space. He plays forward, not enough players play forward in this day and age.

“His set-play delivery is outstanding. He can score goals from distance, which against low-block defences is another attribute which is a little different from our other players.”

Maddison has made only one appearance for England, being out of the national team for three years. But, Southgate says the brutal competition in England’s midfield should be blamed for his absence.

“That was unfortunate from his perspective because it became a bigger issue than it was for me,” the England manager added.

“You end up in the papers, nobody likes that. But for me, that wasn’t the drama that it seemed to be for everyone else. He’s always been up against some really good players in that area of the pitch.”