Gareth Southgate “concern” raised ahead of World Cup as England squad takes shape

Former England forward Tony Cottee is concerned with the lack of creativity in the Three Lions side – and insists James Maddison is unfortunate not to get a call up.

Gareth Southgate’s men face Italy and Germany in their final two competitive matches before the World Cup gets underway in November, with the Three Lions travelling to the San Siro on Friday night. Despite registering the most goals out of any English midfielder in the Premier League this season, Maddison has not been selected in his squad.

Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Mason Mount are the Three Lions’ attacking midfielders in Southgate’s contingent, but none have got as many goals and assists combined as Leicester’s Maddison. James Ward-Prowse, Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice make up the midfielders in the squad, with Southgate keen to continue with a double-pivot in front of the back four, or even back-five.

When speaking about Maddison’s exclusion, Cottee told exclusively Mirror Football, via Cheekypunter : “I don’t think James can do anymore really, he’s a fabulous player. What slightly concerns me is that I don’t think Gareth wants too many flare players in his team. He was very reluctant to play Jack Grealish in the Euro’s.

“I think, for what he is looking for in terms of balance, I don’t think he can afford to fit in players such as Anthony Gordon and James Maddison. Anthony is very young in his career and he has got time on his side. He is a tremendous player and his time will come.

James Maddison has three goals to his name this season

James Maddison has three goals to his name this season
Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

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“With James, he’s into his mid-20s, but in terms of goals and assists, I don’t think he could do much more. I think it’s more the make-up of the squad and what the manager is thinking, as oppose to anything personal to him.”

He added: “You don’t need four right-backs in the squad, do you? For me, you’ve got to get the balance right, you’ve got to cover all the bases, all of the areas.

“At the moment, rightly or wrongly, Gareth doesn’t think James is the man to tick those boxes. Perhaps he thinks that he has Foden, Grealish and he doesn’t need James at the moment. Personally, I would’ve liked to see him in the England squad.”

England face Iran in their first World Cup group game on November 21, with the Three Lions also facing Wales and USA in their group.

He continued: “We’ve got the players to win it without a doubt, we should’ve won the Euro’s last year. I think there were a lot of mistakes made by Gareth unfortunately.

“It’s hard to judge at the moment because it’s going to be a unique and crazy world cup as we all know in terms of when it is being played. Also there’s a dilemma on who’s going to fit, who’s not going to be fit, and there’s players who either haven’t been starting for their clubs or have been off form for their clubs, or have been injured. But what I would say is that we 100% have the players to win it.”

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