Leicester midfielder James Maddison is not expected to make it into the final 26-player England squad for the 2022 World Cup that starts later this month.
Maddison has played only once for England at senior international level after consistently making a few squads in late 2019, but had every chance of being included in the group travelling to Qatar because of his outstanding club form in recent weeks.
The 25-year-old, who scored 18 goals in all competitions last season and 11 the season before, has been key to Leicester’s revival following a dreadful start to the campaign. Since the start of October, Maddison has managed three goals and three assists in six appearances.
It was enough for Maddison to get onto the initial 55-player preliminary list, but it seems not the final squad. Despite his form and complementary skillset, the Daily Telegraph has reported he is ‘braced for bad news’ after Southgate has whittled it down to the final 26 players.
World Cup squads have been increased from the usual 23 players this year. Similar measures were taken by UEFA for Euro 2020 and CONMEBOL for last year’s Copa America, which had been implemented to help minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on those tournaments.
With club football squeezed in the early weeks of the 2022/23 season to leave space for the World Cup and only a week-long break before the tournament begins, the additional bodies could also help with potential fatigue and injury concerns.
But even three extra places haven’t secured Maddison the nod from Southgate.