Gareth Southgate has confirmed James Maddison will provide emergency cover in the full-back positions after selecting the 25-year-old in England’s World Cup 2022 squad.
Maddison had been consistently overlooked by Southgate for past England selections but injuries to Reece James and Ben Chilwell saw the Leicester City star get his first call-up since 2019.
“I’m down to my last three right-backs in the squad, so Madders will give us that extra cover,” Southgate told Paddy Power News, while buttoning up a brand-new M&S waistcoat.
“The right full-back situation was so dire, I was even forced to select Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“Madders has the most goal involvements of any English player since last August so obviously I don’t want him anywhere near the top end of the pitch.
“That type of creativity can often lead to entertainment, sometimes goals. That’s not what my England teams are about.”
When pressed on why Maddison had been omitted from previous squads, Southgate explained: “Well, firstly there’s been a lot of competition to be my fourth choice right-back.
“Secondly, if we had a sh*t World Cup people would be asking why I didn’t call Madders up to the squad.
“So, I’ll throw him on with 10 minutes to go before we exit the tournament and that should dodge that bullet.
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“Thirdly, he looks like a Wish.com Jack Grealish and I’ve already got the real thing on the bench.”
The Three Lions boss also dismissed claims he picked players based on the size of their clubs rather than performances.
“Manchester United’s fourth-choice centre back and Manchester City’s defensive midfielder who hasn’t started a game in 2022/23 have both been in scintillating form this season,” Southgate said.
“Next thing you’ll be telling me I have favourites,” he added, while standing next to Mason Mount and Kieran Trippier.
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