Maddison hopeful of availability for World Cup opener after England return

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James Maddison will likely be available for England's World Cup opener against Iran following the Leicester City forward's injury scare against West Ham.

The Foxes forward earned a Three Lions recall last week as part of Gareth Southgate's 26-man party for Qatar 2022, three years on from his only cap.

But Maddison's long-awaited return to the fold looked to be in jeopardy after he departed early during his side's Premier League clash with the Hammers over the weekend.

He has since travelled to Qatar with the rest of the England squad, however, and has now allayed fears of a potential lay-off that could disrupt his tournament.

"The injury is OK," he stated. "We had a scan the day before we met up, and it was positive. I had a little problem in the lead up to the West Ham game.

"I wanted to play, I didn't want to not play because of the World Cup, that's not the sort of person I am. I wanted to show the focus was still there.

"I'll have to do a little bit of work with the physios here to get up to full speed [but] it shouldn't affect me playing in the first game. I'm hopeful I'll be fine."

Maddison was one of a few players Southgate revealed he called to inform they had been selected ahead of his squad announcement, wanting to assuage the Leicester man's concerns over any inclusion, though the 25-year-old initially did not answer.

"I was actually having a chatting with Brendan [Rodgers] in his office," he added. "He asked me if I'd had the call and I said no nothing yet.

"I went downstairs into the dressing room, and I'd missed a call off Gareth. The heart starts beating. I'd had his number saved still.

"I went up and called him back, and he gave me the good news, which was all a bit of a blur. After the call had ended it was a head on the wall moment, took a big deep breath, and then I called my parents."