James Maddison has had an incredible debut season in the Premier League. The 22-year-old moved to Leicester City from Championship side Norwich City for an estimated £20 million and the Foxes have had an instant return on their investment.
Maddison featured 36 times for Leicester this campaign, scoring seven goals while notching seven assists. His impact and influence at the King Power Stadium has been clear for all to see…
The Three Lions, currently 2/1 with 888sport to win the Nations League, have gone with a similar squad to the one that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
Southgate promised to pick players purely on form rather than the prestige of their club but Maddison has been hard done by. The Leicester star’s frustration will only be enhanced by the inclusion of Manchester City’s Fabian Delph and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard.
Delph’s last Premier League outing was in a 3-0 win away at Huddersfield Town in January and he finished the 2018/19 campaign with just 11 appearances to his name.
Delph himself must have been surprised to receive the good news – the former Aston Villa midfielder has made just three appearances in all competitions since mid-January.
One of those performances was an 18-minute cameo off the substitute’s bench with City five goals to the good and he was hauled off after 57 minutes with the Blues two-nil down at Swansea City in another. Delph’s inclusion is perhaps the most baffling of all.
Manchester United’s recent struggles have been well-documented and Jesse Lingard’s form will be cause for concern for England supporters.
The Red Devils midfielder can line up in a number of positions but he has been directly involved in just 10 goals in 43 appearances for club and country in 2018/19.
England under-21s are well fancied to challenge at the U21 Euro Finals this summer and the Leicester man, along with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, will be looking to help Aidy Boothroyd’s side win the competition.
Valued at 3/1 in 888sport’s football betting odds, England have one of the strongest youth squads in world football and perhaps Southgate believes that Maddison needs to gain more international experience at U21 level before making the step up.
That claim doesn’t sit well with me though. Maddison has proven himself at Premier League level this season, holding his own on the biggest domestic stage in the sport.
The phrase ‘if they’re good enough, they’re old enough’ is thrown around a lot in football but it is certainly applicable here. Gaining experience with the under-21s isn’t going to do his career any harm but he is talented enough to ply his trade for the full national team.
If nothing else, Maddison gives you a creative spark. The Leicester star was the ONLY player to create over 100 goal-scoring opportunities in the Premier League last season and he is the kind of player who can make an impact off the bench.
It is simple, situational football – who do you want to bring on if you’re chasing a goal with 25 minutes to go, James Maddison or Fabian Delph? It isn’t even a question.
The likes of Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho obviously pull rank but you could argue that Maddison is just as influential as Ross Barkley and/or Nathan Redmond. Players involved in the Europa League and Champions League may be tired heading into this summer’s competition…
England have a real opportunity to build on last year’s success at the 2018 World Cup with a triumphant trip to Portugal. The UEFA Nations League is there for the taking and England tick all the right boxes to lift the trophy in Porto.
Maddison’s exclusion has got England fans talking about Southgate’s priorities – let’s just hope he doesn’t come to regret putting the under-21s first come the end of the summer.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*