Maddison delighted by 'second debut' for England after World Cup woes
James Maddison was delighted to earn his "second debut" with England after facing difficulties during the World Cup in Qatar.
The Leicester City midfielder's second cap for the Three Lions came three and a half years after his international debut, with opportunities not forthcoming in that spell as he faced immense competition for a berth in the side.
Maddison shone in his display against Ukraine at Wembley, creating five chances – the most of any player in their first game for England since Theo Walcott created six against Andorra in September 2008.
With his England debut feeling like "a lifetime ago", Maddison enjoyed his second coming into the national side.
"It felt great. I said in there it almost felt like a second debut. Like it doesn't really work. But it's been that long," he told reporters.
"It feels a lifetime ago, since that Montenegro game. So it almost felt like a second debut; it felt really good out there.
"It's so refreshing to be out there with the lads in a strong team and a big game. I really enjoyed it."
Maddison's hopes of featuring for England at the World Cup in Qatar suffered a serious blow after picking up an injury ahead of the tournament, leaving him battling for fitness in his bid to play.
No minutes in the tournament came for the Leicester City man, who detailed the struggles he endured during England's campaign.
"I felt there were a lot of lows, and there's a lot of sad, sad faces when I was in my room by myself," he explained.
"I was just thinking 'why now this little injury. Why? Why in the West Ham game did I get that just before the World Cup', after I've worked so hard to get to the position where it felt everyone was clamouring for me to be in the squad.
"And I've worked so hard and my performances were really good. And so there were tough times in the room in Qatar, FaceTiming home, just sad, but it was almost like a battle with myself to say, 'don't take this for granted'.
"I might not be able to shake this injury off, but it will leave me in good stead if I show Gareth, and show the people who are questioning my personality off the fields that or whatever that is, that's all rubbish and that I can be a good person.
"We have such a good group and I get on so well with the lads and the staff, and it's what you see from the outside is exactly how it is.
"The togetherness and the fun nature of the energy around the camp. I hoped stuff like that would leave me in good stead."