Southgate explains Maddison snub
Mason Mount and Phil Foden’s continued good form has kept James Maddison out of the England squad despite his impressive season, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has said.
The Chelsea and Manchester City stars are the players that Maddison is competing with for a spot in the England set-up, and Southgate said he is happy with the pair who have been regulars in his team, and who have performed well for their club sides this term. The Leicester City midfielder enjoyed the best campaign of his career, scoring 18 goals.
Southgate has picked the likes of Conor Gallagher and James Ward-Prowse in his midfield for the upcoming Nations League games, but he has suggested Maddison is not a rival to them. He sees City’s player of the season as operating further forward.
“He’s finished the season very well,” Southgate said when asked about Maddison’s omission. “He’s obviously scoring goals.
Maddison hints at England frustration
James Maddison has so far remain tight-lipped about being left out of the England squad – but has dropped a big hint about his feelings on the matter.
Maddison was being tipped for an international call-up at the end of a highly impressive season with Leicester City from a personal point of view. However, Gareth Southgate has opted not to call upon his services.
Maddison has enjoyed the best season of his career, scoring 18 goals and also proving a key creator. Former England striker Darren Bent was baffled by the Leicester man’s absence from Southgate’s squad.
Bent said on Twitter: “Some of the England squad selections and omissions confuse me, and when he (Southgate) talks about it and contradicts himself I’m completely lost.” The former Tottenham, Sunderland and Aston Villa man then added: “How is @Madders10 not in the squad, is form no longer important?”
‘Absolute honour’ for Justin
Leicester City wing-back James Justin has given his reaction after receiving a maiden senior England call-up following a string of impressive performances since returning from injury.
Justin, who can play either right-back or left-back, will join up with Gareth Southgate’s 27-man squad for England’s four Nations League fixtures across June against Hungary, Italy and Germany. He becomes the first Foxes’ player to be called up since Harvey Barnes in October 2020.
Southgate has previously hinted that the 24-year-old would have been included in March 2021 had he not suffered a serious knee injury a month earlier. Since recovering, the former Luton Town man has made 15 starts to help Brendan Rodgers’ side reach the Europa Conference League semi-final.
With Luke Shaw and former Leicester man Ben Chilwell not selected, Justin’s chances of featuring next month are high. The other full-back options in the squad are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier.
Transfer refresh explained
A refresh of the Leicester City squad was first proposed by Brendan Rodgers a few days after the January transfer window closed. Now, with the summer market about to open, the club can get on with the job.
But over the few months since Rodgers announced City’s intentions, the nature of their plan has been distorted. The manager has always used words like “refresh” and “healthy shake-up”, not “rebuild” or “overhaul”. There is an important distinction.
The latter two words suggest City will start again from the ground up, but this is not the case. There are not the funds to do that. Instead, they will look for clever buys to reinvigorate the squad. It should not be assumed that City will be smashing their transfer record with a few big-money deals this summer.
As has been established by the previous two seasons, there is a good squad at City, one that saw two England internationals leave for £130m and still finish fifth in the Premier League, twice challenging for the Champions League. But it is a squad that’s lost its way a little.
Soyuncu in demand?
Chelsea, Manchester City and Juventus “intend to sign” Leicester City defender Çaglar Söyüncü.
Söyüncü is one of a handful of players who could leave to help fund Brendan Rodgers’ healthy refresh this summer, with Ayoze Perez, Hamza Choudhury and Jannik Vestergaard also among the candidates to leave.
According to Spanish outlet AS, Chelsea, Man City and Juventus are all keen on the defender, who is said to be valued at €40m. His Leicester contract is set to expire in the summer of 2023, so the club are likely to cash in now rather than attempt to tie him down to a new deal.
Real Madrid also see Söyüncü as an “option”, though they are signing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer this summer.