Gareth Southgate responds to James Maddison’s bad boy tag after shock England World Cup call

Gareth Southgate has no doubts about James Maddison’s attitude after he naming him in his 26-man squad for the World Cup.

The Leicester City attacking midfielder was the surprise selection in the group of players selected to represent England in Qatar.

Having not been picked since 2019, his attitude has been questioned in some quarters after he withdrew from a call up with illness in the same year.

He was then pictured at a casino on the same day but Southgate insists that none of that has any bearing on how he sees Maddison.

“Yes, without a doubt,” Southgate told reporters at St George’s Park. “I was with him in an under-21s tournament and he is a bit of a football student, James.

“I think there are some misconceptions, perhaps, about him. My experiences with him when he was in the under-21s and when he was with us were that he wanted to talk about the game, he wanted to talk about what was expected.

“I’ve always said it was football reasons for not selecting him and in the main, the capabilities of others in the group and that’s the case. I’ve got no concerns about how he will be with the group. He knows most of the lads, he has been in the junior teams with a lot of them so that isn’t a concern at all.”

Southgate was then asked whether he could start against Iran in the opening match on November 21: “Why not? Why would any of the 26 arrive next week thinking they haven’t got a chance of getting in?

“Some will know they have more realistic than others because they will know the experience of players who may have been playing more regularly and they will know the form of the players.

Back in the fold: Maddison’s last England cap came in 2019 (Getty Images)
Back in the fold: Maddison’s last England cap came in 2019 (Getty Images)

“But we have to have an open mind. Things change quickly and we need that competition for places. They have to drive each other. At the same time, they have to support each other. We have to mould that group again and get them thinking about what it takes to go a long way in previous tournaments.

“So there is always that internal push for places but also that collective camaraderie that’s so important.”