Leicester midfielder James Maddison has been included in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad for the 2022 World Cup, along with Newcastle striker Callum Wilson.
Neither player has featured for England since 2019, but recent club form has seen them earn a call-up for the Qatar tournament, which begins on November 20.
Discussing Maddison’s inclusion, Southgate said: “He is playing really well. We think he can give us something slightly different to the attacking players that we’ve got.
“He’s playing as good as any of the attacking players in this country. He is a little bit different to the others. I think we could need that.”
Maddison last played for England in November 2019 while 2020 Wilson’s last international cap came a month before in October 2019.
Among English players, Maddison has had one of the highest number of goal involvements since August 2021, while Wilson has scored six Premier League goals this season with two assists.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted for Maddison, calling him “one of the best players in the Premier League”.
“It’s wonderful news for James and his family. I’m also delighted for Gareth from a coaching perspective to have that talent available in what’s such a great tournament,” Rodgers said.
“I think his level of consistency, the work ethic, the talent and what he’s proven over the last few years has swung that decision for him because he’s a fantastic player and one of the best players in the Premier League. I’m really, really delighted for him.
“I’ve always sensed with James that desire to improve and be the best that he can be.
“When I spoke to him this morning – just anticipating either way [that he was in the squad] because at that stage we didn’t know – my case was really reinforcing about the next World Cup.
“However it goes, whether you get the decision or not, it’s really about progressing and developing and he’s got that mentality to do that. It’s great news for him and great for his country.”
Gareth Southgate on his overall World Cup squad
“We’ve wanted to make sure we have the balance right. In this day and age squad is more important than ever, with five subs you can change almost half your team.
“You want different things at different stages of matches and at different stages of the tournament.
“We’ve had to cover a couple of players that aren’t fully match fit, so having 26 meant we were able to take some risks we weren’t able to with 23.
“We think we have the cover we need, we are lighter on depth in some areas than others in our country, but we think we have everything covered.”
Gallagher and White also named in 26-player group
Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher will also be going to his first senior World Cup, having only earned his first senior cap last November as a second-half substitute against San Marino. He has earned three further caps in 2022.
Arsenal defender Ben White is also on the plane, following on from his inclusion during Euro 2020. He did not play for England as they finished as runners-up, but injuries to full-backs such as Reece James and Ben Chilwell, along with White’s own outstanding form, has resulted in his inclusion for Qatar.
Manchester City pair Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips were included despite a lack of match fitness following recent injuries, while Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has been named in the squad despite his limited game time.
When asked about the trio, Southgate said: “Harry is one of our best centre-backs. I think we know within the squad that we have a lot of players that have been to tournaments and performed at the level and know what is required.
“Kalvin played last night [for Man City against Chelsea in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup win] so I think with him, he is free of injury. We are aware that he’s not going to be able to play seven 90 minutes. That won’t be possible.
“We are going to have to build his fitness level, but he is available, free of injury and we don’t really have a lot of cover for that role in the country. Kalvin is a super player, and we feel that is a risk worth taking.
“Kyle’s a little bit different because he’s not back in full training yet, but he’s going to be available before the end of the group stage.
“Of course, we had to make a really difficult call with Reece James, who we think is a fantastic player, but he wasn’t going to be available, if everything went perfectly, until the latter stages of the tournament.
“There were too many unknowns for us on that road to recovery and also, I don’t think we can take a player who is unavailable for the group stages. That would be deemed arrogant in some circles.
“It was a tough call, but Kyle is a long way ahead of that. He’s progressing really well.”
Some notable omissions include Ivan Toney, Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse, Jadon Sancho and Jarrod Bowen. Defenders Tyrone Mings, Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi have also not earned a place.
Gareth Southgate on selecting Wilson over Abraham
“Tammy’s had a poor run of scoring form at the wrong time, really, and it’s not a case of that we are three or four weeks away from a finals and the start of the first match.
“We are now 10 days away so form could be more important.
“We are watching their club form, but we don’t really know where the players are until we see them face-to-face and until we see them on the training pitch. We get regular medical updates from their clubs but there will be medical issues that we are not completely aware of yet.
“We know the form we are seeing in the matches, but even so, you still don’t get the full picture from the players until you are able to speak to them, work with them and see how they train with each other.”
England’s World Cup squad in full…
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), Nick Pope (Newcastle).
Defenders: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Man City), Benjamin White (Arsenal), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Conor Coady (Everton, on loan from Wolves), Luke Shaw (Man Utd).
Midfielders: Declan Rice (West Ham), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Kalvin Phillips (Man City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Mason Mount (Chelsea).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Callum Wilson (Newcastle), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Phil Foden (Man City), Jack Grealish (Man City), James Maddison (Leicester City).
Analysis: Southgate changes tack to include Maddison
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:
James Maddison’s inclusion represents a departure from Southgate’s usual way of working. The England boss tends to favour international experience and familiarity. Maddison, his solitary senior cap coming back in 2019, does not give him either.
What had become clear, though, is that what he does give him was worth changing tack for. Maddison has excelled not just lately but for a period of over a year, claiming 18 goals and 12 assists in 47 Premier League games since the start of last season.
His numbers are better than those of any of his contemporaries and while there may not be an obvious slot for him in England’s line-up, his creative flair was rightly deemed worth making room for.
Maddison is a difference-maker, whose spontaneity could prove precisely what England need in the tight games of major tournament football, so often decided by individual moments of brilliance.
And besides, there is more than enough experience and familiarity elsewhere in Southgate’s squad.
His preference for those qualities can be seen in his decision not to bring in a supplementary left-back to support Luke Shaw following Ben Chilwell’s injury, preferring to rely on Kieran Trippier to cover both sides rather than turn to a Ryan Sessegnon or Dan Burn.
Analysis: ‘Southgate’s been pragmatic’
Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett:
“James Maddison’s inclusion, Callum Wilson’s inclusion and Conor Gallagher’s inclusion are the notable headlines.
“There are a number of players that miss out as a result of that where Gareth Southgate has had to make some big decisions and one of those is the inclusion of Ben White.
“When you look at the list of the players included, he’s one of four fit full-backs that he’s got in the squad.
“Southgate wanted that extra versatility of a player who can centre-back and right-back, and he’s gone for that instead of going for one of the other full-back options.
“He’s also gone for Conor Gallagher to offer greater support and cover for Kalvin Phillips, who we know has played so little football for Man City this season after undergoing shoulder surgery. So, he needed that extra body in midfield.
“Looking at the squad in the round, Southgate’s been pragmatic in his approach to this.”
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England’s Group B fixtures
Monday November 21 – England vs Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 1pm)
Friday November 25 – England vs USA (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 7pm)
Tuesday November 29 – Wales vs England (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 7pm)
What is England’s potential route to the final?*
If England/Wales win Group B….
Sunday December 4 – Last 16: England vs Ecuador (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 7pm)
Saturday December 10 – Quarter-final: England vs France (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 7pm)
Wednesday December 14 – Semi-final: England vs Belgium (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 7pm)
Sunday December 18 – Final: England vs Netherlands (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 3pm)
If England/Wales finish second in Group B…
Saturday December 3 – Last 16: Netherlands vs England (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 3pm)
Friday December 9 – Quarter-final: England vs Argentina (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; 7pm)
Tuesday December 13 – Semi-final: England vs Brazil (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 7pm)
Sunday December 18 – Final: England vs France (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 3pm)
*Based on highest FIFA world ranking finishing top of respective groups and winning knock-out games