Maddison warned to keep low profile after casino trip
Gareth Southgate has warned James Maddison that he needs to be “high performance, low maintenance” if he wants to be an England international.
Maddison has kept his place in an enlarged 27-man squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo, but with a clear message from the manager that he has to be careful about his off-field behaviour. Maddison was left sweating on his place after being photographed in a casino the day after he was pulled out of the last England squad through illness.
Southgate insisted that rumours the 22-year-old midfielder had withdrawn from the squad because he realised he was not going to play against the Czech Republic were not true. “Any suggestion that he chose to go home because he wanted to go out is unfair. Having said that, I don’t think it was a great decision that he took,” Southgate said. The England manager added that he was not on a “moral crusade” but said: “It’s not a good situation for a player when we’re talking about him in Sofia, and talking about him here and he’s yet to get on the pitch for us. So, that’s the challenge. You want to be high performance, low maintenance.
“I am prepared to work with players who are more difficult but you’re more likely to back those players if they’ve scored a winner for you and sweated blood for you, and that’s the bond you build with those players over a longer period of time.”
The inference was clear: Maddison has not earned that right and certainly not the right to be “difficult” and so has plenty to do to convince Southgate of his worth, despite his outstanding form for Leicester City.
Asked whether Maddison understood the situation he caused by going out gambling at the same time as England were losing away to the Czechs, Southgate said: “I would imagine he’s got that. He probably didn’t realise what the consequences might be and he’s not been with an England team before. He wouldn’t, perhaps, have
‘You are more likely to back players if they’ve scored a winner and sweated blood for you’
picked up the responsibility that goes with that. So, I’m sure he’s aware of that now.”
It is also clearly irritating for Southgate and not a good look for Maddison when an England squad announcement is dominated by a player who has been in only three squads but is yet to play for his country. Southgate did not call Maddison after the incident, as claimed in a Sunday newspaper before the tie against Bulgaria, as he said this would set a precedent.
However, he has spoken to other players omitted from his squad. Eric Dier was called last week and, before the last announcement, a conversation took place with Dele Alli. Once again the Tottenham Hotspur pair have been left out, along with Jesse Lingard and Kyle Walker, who were all key players at last year’s World Cup.
“I always talk them through the rationale of the initial decision and then try to pick it up as we go through,” Southgate said. “Because I think they need feedback – it’s important for players. I’ve done that with Michael Keane [who has been dropped] this time because they want to go away and improve and try to get back in the squad.”
Southgate admitted that while Alli was “on a better path” he faced stiff competition, with Alex Oxladechamberlain recalled and Ross Barkley having played well for England. Barkley, however, may pull out of the squad if he does not feature tomorrow for Chelsea.
Southgate said he was hopeful about Mason Mount’s fitness, despite his ankle injury, but that optimism is not shared at Chelsea. Fabian Delph is also a doubt.
Southgate will watch John Stones, who is back in and who is expected to play for Manchester City against Liverpool on Sunday.
Villa’s Jack Grealish has missed out, although he may receive a callup if there are withdrawals, with the manager saying he faces a fight to even make the squad, given he is playing in a more advanced position and is therefore in competition with Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and the recalled Callum Hudson-odoi.
“It’s just a consequence of the competition for places,” he said.