James Maddison has been called up to England’s 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup at the last minute, along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Callum Wilson, Ben White and Marcus Rashford.
Southgate also created a surprise by calling up Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher ahead of Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse. Maddison’s only previous England appearance came as a substitute against Montenegro in November 2019 and he hasn’t been capped since despite a fine run of appearances at Leicester City.
However, after a calendar year in which Maddison scored 22 Premier League goals – only Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-Min have more – England manager Gareth Southgate has opted to include the attacking midfielder in his tour group in Qatar.
Former England striker Gary Lineker said it would be an “absolute travesty” if he weren’t chosen, especially in light of England’s disappointing run of games, which didn’t won none of their last six matches.
“He plays very well”, Southgate said at a press conference when the roster was announced. “Look, he’s a good player, we always said he was a good player. He won the right. We think he can give us something a little different from the other attacking players we have. I think at different times there have been conversations, debates about James. There were times before the Euros, I don’t think he was in the running, he had a little problem with his hip. September was probably a fair debate but I think he is playing as well as any other attacking player in this country. He is a little different from the others. We have different types of threats and we might need them.”
“I spoke to James because I think this morning there was a lot of speculation that James wouldn’t be with us. We had decided a few weeks ago that we would be with him, but obviously we weren’t going to tell him then. He was delighted. I’ve had some really tough calls that were emotionally on the other end of the spectrum, so it was nice to give me a little nicer ending. I can’t wait to participate in a World Cup, it’s my fourth and it’s a privilege and an honor. All of these calls, the most difficult and the most pleasant, reminded me of what this means for the players.
The wait is over.
—England (@England) November 10, 2022
After Chelsea defender Reece James was ruled out due to concerns over his recovery from a knee injury, both Alexander-Arnold and White were chosen, the latter’s last selection being in March. White, who excelled at right-back for Arsenal but can also play as a centre-back, was not used in the postponed Euro 2020 finals last year.
Alexander-Arnold missed this tournament through injury and was doubtful for Qatar after falling out of form with Liverpool, but Southgate remained confident. Newcastle United forward Wilson and Manchester United forward Rashford have been retained as reserve forwards for Kane, at the expense of AS Roma’s Tammy Abraham and Brentford’s Ivan Toney.
“We wanted to make sure we had a good balance in the squad,” added Southgate. “In our time, membership is more important than ever. With five substitutes, you can have almost half the squad changed during the game. You want different options for different times of matches and for different stages of the tournament as well.”
“We had to cover two or three players who weren’t quite fit yet. Having 26 players available allowed us to take some risks that we couldn’t have taken with 23. But we think the balance is there. We are lighter in depth in some positions than. Others in our country, but we think we’ve got it all covered.”
Kyle Walker (groin) and Kalvin Phillips (shoulder) were included as planned despite injury concerns, but there was no room for Fikayo Tomori despite his key role in AC Milan’s maiden Serie A title in 11 years and his presence in the last two selections of England.
The manager also confirmed there is an informal standby list ahead of the final round of domestic fixtures this weekend before the start of the World Cup.
“We had to name all the English players who were available on a long list”Southgate said. “There are conversations I’ve had with players over the past two days where it’s clear they’ll be next in line. But we don’t know what may happen in the next few days. I think there are two left-backs who got injured last night.
“We have to be fluid, adaptable and ready for anything. There’s nothing I can do about it. Watching the matches unfold, we are always intrigued to see how the tactical matches are going, the results, the form of the players of course, but there is nothing we can do about the injuries. It is not our responsibility. We’ve been hit before and it could happen again, but we have to adapt and we have good players to come into play if we lose people.
England travel to Qatar on Tuesday and face Iran in the Group B opener on November 21.
The full England squad for the 2022 World Cup:
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 ).