Gareth Southgate urges James Maddison to take his England chance
Gareth Southgate has challenged James Maddison to prove his England pedigree after handing him another chance.
The Leicester midfielder is in Southgate’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo this month.
Maddison pulled out of the squad to face the Czech Republic and Bulgaria last month because of illness.
But the uncapped 22-year-old was pictured in a casino during the 2-1 defeat in Prague.
It is Maddison’s fourth call-up and Southgate wants him to show his worth on and off the pitch.
“It wasn’t a great decision he took (going to a casino), now he will realise as an England player there is a different profile,” said Southgate.
“Everyone has a camera phone and has a chance to make some money. We’re supporting him because we’ve picked him. He’s got to come into the squad and fight for his place like anyone else.
“He’s only been in two squads, the important thing to say is there were some suggestions he decided to go home.
“We sent him home, he was ill, and it wasn’t the right thing to travel with the rest of the group and spread that illness.”
John Stones has returned, replacing the axed Michael Keane, and could make his first England appearance since the Nations League in the summer.
Southgate is eager to see how the Manchester City defender performs in Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at Liverpool.
He said: “John’s had a few games back in the team. I’ll be able to answer that question (how impressed Southgate has been) better after Sunday, matches up to now have been Manchester City dominated.
“There’s still a bit to see and a bit more to test him but it’s good he’s back fit and playing.
“He’s one of our most experienced defenders, it’s an area of the pitch in terms of caps and experience where we don’t have huge experience.”
Tottenham’s Dele Alli has missed out with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain recalled after missing last month’s squad as he continued to recover from last season’s serious knee injury.
The Liverpool midfielder has scored four goals in his last four games.
“It’s not a case of reward, we have huge belief in him,” Southgate said. “In October he had the message we had faith in him, he just needed to get playing more regularly so he was coming to us ready.”
There was no place for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish but Southgate insisted the midfielder remains in his thoughts.
He added: “I’ve watched him closely this season. He is up against (Raheem) Sterling, (Marcus) Rashford, (Callum) Hudson-Odoi and (Jadon) Sancho in those wide areas. I know he can play as a number eight but that’s not where Villa have played him in the last six or seven weeks.
“Jack is a very good player, he’s very close. If we had issues over the weekend I wouldn’t hesitate to call him into the squad.”
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi returned to the squad having been promoted from the Under-21s.
The twice-capped winger is fit again after the serious Achilles injury he suffered in April.
Midfielders Mason Mount and Fabian Delph are included in the 27-man group despite doubts over their fitness with Southgate naming a larger squad should they be forced to withdraw.
Yet there was still no place for Manchester City’s Kyle Walker while Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka was also omitted.
Victory over Montenegro at Wembley would book England’s place at Euro 2020.