James Maddison sits out England training in bid to manage World Cup 2022 workload

James Maddison sits out England training in bid to manage World Cup 2022 workload

James Maddison sat out training in Al Wakrah on Thursday, after telling Gareth Southgate he has grown up and is ready to deliver a “big moment” for England at the World Cup.

Maddison featured in Wednesday’s session — the squad’s first in Qatar —but was left out today as England manage his workload following the knee complaint which forced him off in Leicester’s win over West Ham at the weekend.

The Foxes playmaker was a surprise inclusion in Southgate’s 26-man squad, having not featured for his country since winning his only cap in 2019.

During his absence, there were suggestions that Southgate had concerns about Maddison’s character after he was pictured in a casino on the night of a qualifier against the Czech Republic, having withdrawn from the squad due to illness.

England Training Session for FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar | 17th November 2022

Harry Kane (Jeremy Selwyn)
Harry Kane (Jeremy Selwyn)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (PA)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (PA)
Declan Rice and Eric Dier (REUTERS)
Declan Rice and Eric Dier (REUTERS)
Harry Kane alongside John Stones, Harry Maguire , Callum Wilson, Bukayo Sako and Eric Dier during the England Training session at Al Wakrah Stadium (Getty Images)
Harry Kane alongside John Stones, Harry Maguire , Callum Wilson, Bukayo Sako and Eric Dier during the England Training session at Al Wakrah Stadium (Getty Images)
(Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)
Gareth Southgate (Jeremy Selwyn)
Gareth Southgate (Jeremy Selwyn)
John Stones, Harry Kane, Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar (PA)
John Stones, Harry Kane, Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar (PA)
Phil Foden (PA)
Phil Foden (PA)
Marcus Rashford (Jeremy Selwyn)
Marcus Rashford (Jeremy Selwyn)
Harry Kane (Jeremy Selwyn)
Harry Kane (Jeremy Selwyn)
Conor Gallagher (PA)
Conor Gallagher (PA)

The England manager has played down those concerns and the casino incident, describing Maddison as “misunderstood”.

Asked about Southgate’s comments, Maddison said: “Anyone who knows me and anyone within football knows the type of person that I am, how I

am as a person and a player. I always try to carry myself with respect, be very professional. If by misunderstood you mean the people outside of my life, then I think that’s what he [Southgate] is talking about. I don’t feel like I’m misunderstood.

“But listen, here today 25-year-old James Maddison, who is a father, would probably say to 20-year-old James Maddison, that’s not the best idea to do that, or to do that. That’s all part of the learning and all part of the experience.

“I’m thicker-skinned and more experienced now because of little things that have happened in the past.”

Asked about the casino incident, he added: “I thought that might get brought up and I’m actually glad you asked. People forget that I was actually capped and called up after the casino incident and it wasn’t a big deal at the time for Gareth.

“It got blown out of proportion and was never a concern, that was more outside noise from you lot [the media], I think.”

Maddison was the only England player not to train outdoors today, although Kyle Walker has said he will not be fit for England’s opening game against Iran on Monday as he recovers from groin surgery. “I think the first game is a little too short, but after that I will be good and ready to go,” Walker said.

Maddison revealed he had a “positive” scan on Sunday and is hopeful his knee problem will not impact his chance of playing a full part at the finals, although his absence from training will raise doubts about the likelihood that he will start against the Iranians at the Khalifa International Stadium.

With fierce competition for places from Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and others, Maddison is conscious he may get only “one moment” at the finals, but has backed himself to take it.

“I’ve got to be ready when called upon,” said Maddison, who has directly contributed to 24 goals in 2022, more than any other English player barring Harry Kane.

“I feel like I’m in good form, I’ve been in good goal-scoring form, and we’ve got such a brilliant, brilliant squad that you might only get that one moment, that one chance to show everyone what you can do, and be the man to help the team, and I’ll be ready when that opportunity comes.

“Big moments in tournaments are the ones that get replayed for years and years, so to get one would be absolutely unbelievable. That would be the real pinnacle, the real dream.”

Point to prove: James Maddison says he will be ready when called upon after his surprise inclusion in the squad, but today he sat out training (left) as a precaution