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James Maddison: No bitterness towards Gareth Southgate over England exile ahead of World Cup

James Maddison says he holds “no bitterness” towards Gareth Southgate over missing out on the England squad for three years before being called up for the World Cup.

The Leicester midfielder has been overlooked by Southgate since making his only international appearance in November 2019.

But his impressive form at club level over the last 18 months has seen him earn a spot in the 26-man squad for Qatar.

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“There was no bitterness,” reflected Maddison about his previous lack of selection.

“As England manager, Gareth has a lot of talent at his disposal. But it just about keeping that mindset of staying hungry, scoring, assisting and affecting games and showing that I can be an asset for him at this level.”

Maddison has scored seven goals and provided four assists this season.

It was reported that despite his strong numbers he might still miss out on a place in the squad.

He says it was a “bit of a blur” when he found out he was included.

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“I was actually having chatting with [Leicester manager] Brendan [Rodgers] in his office, he asked me if I’d had the call and I said no nothing yet,” said Maddison.

“I went downstairs into the dressing room and I’d missed a call off Gareth Southgate. So the heart starts beating. I’d had his number saved still.

“I went up and called him back and he gave me the good news, which was all a bit of a blur.

“After the call had ended it was a head on the wall moment, took a big deep breath and then I called my parents.”

Despite not playing for England for three years, Maddison never felt his chance of returning was over.

“There were obviously times where you feel like you’re playing well and not getting selected and that happened a couple of times.

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“It is about having the right mindset and staying hungry to achieve and not thinking it was a closed door.

“We have seen with Gareth in the past he has brought players back in when they’re in good form and thankfully that was me for this tournament.”

Maddison suffered a scare in Leicester’s final game before the World Cup as he went off with an injury.

But he said: “We had a scan the day before we met up and it was a positive scan.

“I had a little problem in the lead up to the West Ham game. I wanted to play, I didn’t want to not play because of the World Cup, that’s not the sort of person I am. I wanted to show the focus was still there.

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“I managed to score early and carry on for a little bit after that but there was soreness and it was getting a little bit worse as the game was going on.

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

England play their first game against Iran on November 21.

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