Sunday People

Jude’s disappeari­ng act demands some Maddison magic


JUDE BELLINGHAM’S rise has been meteoric – but he needs to catch his breath with England.

The teenager continues to confound with the level of his performanc­es for both Borussia Dortmund and his country.

The opening 45 minutes in Naples saw him at his best.

He was involved in pretty much everything good as the Three Lions were rampant, despite the ordinary Italian side in front of them.

However, Bellingham disappeare­d after the interval.


He wasn’t the only one, but if England are to become a nation to be feared, Southgate needs replacemen­ts who can step up at a moment’s notice.

For instance, Kane isn’t getting any younger. Where’s the Plan B? Is it to use Marcus Rashford through the middle?

Ivan Toney? I wouldn’t bet on it. He might, mind you.

Also, what happens if Jordan Pickford picks up a knock heading into a tournament? Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale deserves a shot.

Likewise with Bellingham – Southgate would be wise to explore his options.

The 19-year-old cemented his position in Qatar with his powerful running, distributi­on and will to win. Those qualities marked him down as a generation­al talent ever since he made his first-team debut for Birmingham four years ago.

And no one has heaped more praise upon the midfielder than me after learning that he was to take a bow in the profession­al game ahead of an early-season game in the Carabao Cup at Portsmouth.

But one area of definite improvemen­t is in midfield, where the ability to create in front of Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice is paramount.

England do have ball-carriers out wide.

Jack Grealish does it on one flank, Bukayo Saka on the other – but, in terms of adding value, going forward, the open question regarding James Maddison really needs answering.

There was a very public clamour prior to Southgate announcing his World Cup squad for the Coventrybo­rn playmaker’s inclusion.

He has been in sensationa­l form for Brendan Rodgers – there’s no question that if he stays fit from now till the end of the season that the Foxes will escape relegation.

At the King Power, he is the glue that holds it all together.

Sadly, for Rodgers, there’s every indication this summer that their talisman will be off.

He will be entering the best years of career, be right at the top of his game and you can expect a string of top clubs will be beating a path to his door.

If they aren’t, they should be. He would go down a storm – Maddison’s actually got ‘Spurs’ written all over him – but he’d feel just as at home at Newcastle.

Given such a transfer, the added profile and scrutiny should elevate him to another bracket.

That rare quality to retain possession and find another player is priceless. And Maddison has it.


That rare quality – Grealish is the best at it within England’s ranks – to retain possession and find another player wearing a same colour shirt is priceless.

And Maddison has it.

When England are under the cosh, he could take the ball, buy some time or spring an attack.

Everyone knows what Bellingham can do – but that white shirt is no one’s by right.

Maddison deserves his shot today against Ukraine.

It’s time to see if he can live up to the potential while

Bellingham takes a breather.

 ?? ?? GIVE HIM A LEG UP Maddison has to come in for Bellingham (inset)
GIVE HIM A LEG UP Maddison has to come in for Bellingham (inset)

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