World Cup 2022: James Maddison never felt England chance had gone

James Maddison
James Maddison is hopeful of being fit enough to play in England’s opener against Iran next Monday after picking up a knock
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

James Maddison said he never gave up hope of being part of the England squad for the Fifa World Cup despite his three-year absence from the international picture.

The Leicester midfielder, 25, made his England debut in November 2019 – still his only cap for his country.

But Maddison’s excellent club form this season earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for Qatar.

“I didn’t think it was a closed door and the opportunity had gone,” he said.

“It was just about staying hungry and almost using the rejection as not being called as motivation.”

Maddison’s one and only England appearance came in a 7-0 Euro 2020 qualifier win against Montenegro and he has had to wait patiently for his next international opportunity.

He has been instrumental in Leicester’s rise from bottom of the Premier League table to 13th this season, scoring seven goals and providing four assists in 13 games.

However, he was still not certain whether it would be enough to earn a call-up and he admitted it was an emotional moment when he was told he was in the squad.

“My dad actually cried and my dad’s not a crier; I don’t think I’ve seen him cry for years,” he added.

“They were happy tears of course because your family and your parents are on this journey with you.

“The disappointment in previous years of not being selected is spread across the family because your family want what’s best for you.

“But on the opposite end, the happiness comes too.”

There was a scare when Maddison limped off in Leicester’s 2-0 win at West Ham last Saturday, but it was soon confirmed that it was just a knock.

And Maddison says he is confident he will be fit for England’s opener against Iran on Monday (13:00 GMT).

“The scan was a good scan and no major problem,” he said. “I’ll have to do a little bit of work with the physios here to get up to full speed.

“It shouldn’t affect me playing in the first game. I might just have to do some separate work with the physios, but I’m hopeful I’ll be fine.”

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