Brendan Rodgers expects the battle for places in England’s midfield to benefit Leicester as James Maddison faces a fight to get into Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championships.
Maddison could miss this month’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland with a hip injury, potentially a vital chance to impress as Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Mason Mount rival the Leicester man for the playmaker role.
The injury has forced Maddison to miss Leicester’s four games and he will be sidelined again when they face troubled Sheffield United on Sunday, but Rodgers expects England to be on the 24-year-old’s mind once he does return.
“He is still improving, he’s still getting better,” Rodgers said “He’s one of the top performers at this level.
“And when he comes back, that will be motivation to continue with that. He’s a very proud Englishman, he wants to play for England. But if he’s playing well, scoring goals, creating goals, he can do no more than that.”
No timetable has yet been given for when Maddison might be back, with a recurrence of an old hip problem coming at a bad time both for Leicester and the player as the season moves into the final 10 games.
But even if the injury keeps Maddison out a while longer, Rodgers believes the former Norwich man has already done enough to remain at the forefront of Southgate’s mind.
“I think it’s one where you have to look over the course of the season,” Rodgers said. “It’s like when you are fighting for your position in the league – it’s what you do over the course of the season.
“Some players might play well in last five games, but if you haven’t been very good for 33 before that before that then that’s not so good.
“I think it’s clear what you see in James. You see a very gifted player, a very talented player, who’s added efficiency to his game.
“He produces numbers, he’s effective and he’s hungry, and he’s very coachable and he wants to learn. He’s the perfect ingredient for a coach and manager to work with.”
Southgate has been a regular feature at the King Power stadium this season, keeping an eye on Harvey Barnes as well as Maddison.
Rodgers said he had not spoken to Southgate about either player, but did not expect to.
“I haven’t spoken to Gareth since I’ve been here,” he said. “I’m not sure whether he does with other managers, but certainly for me, no.
“And listen, I don’t expect it either. Gareth is a good man, he’s done an excellent job, for me, with the team. He has to make his own decisions. He knows every manager and coach will probably want to influence in terms of their own players, so he seeks independence from that.
“Apart from that, he does his job. I’m always here if he ever wants an opinion, or wants to ask on anything about a player, but thus far he has felt there’s no need, so that’s OK.”