Gareth Southgate has opened up on James Maddison’s inclusion in the England squad ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Maddison has been named in England’s 26-man squad for the tournament that will begin later this month, following a sustained run of impressive form for Leicester.
The 25-year-old has not been capped since making his England debut as a substitute in 2019, but will form part of the Three Lions’ World Cup plans after a run of six goals and four assists in 12 league appearances this season.
Southgate explained Maddison’s inclusion at a press conference and believes the midfielder is performing as well as any attacking player in the country.
“He’s playing really well. He’s a good player, we’ve always said that. He’s earned the right, he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players we’ve got.
“At various stages there have been conversations about James. He is playing as well as any of the attacking players in this country.”
Southgate spoke on Maddison’s absence from recent squads, with the Leicester star having been omitted from September’s squad for the UEFA Nations League fixtures. The England boss admits competition is fierce for a role in the squad, but believes Maddison can provide something different in Qatar.
“He’s always been up against some really good players in that area of the pitch. There have been times when we’ve played 4-3-3, without a No 10 profile and that didn’t necessarily fit,” he said.
“But, like I said, he’s playing exceptionally well. We like that he finds those pockets of space.
“He plays forward – not enough players play forward in this day and age and his set-play delivery is outstanding.
“He can also score goals from distance which against low-block defences is another attribute that is different to some of our players. He was delighted [when we spoke on the phone]. I had some very different calls that were, emotionally, at the other end of the spectrum. So it was nice to give myself an enjoyable end to that.”
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