Rio Ferdinand praises Leicester’s James Maddison ahead of Gareth Southgate’s World Cup decision

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‘His stats are frightening’: Rio Ferdinand praises James Maddison amid calls for Gareth Southgate to take him to the World Cup… while Joe Cole claims England must play at least two of Grealish, Mount, Foden and Leicester star ‘at all times’

  • Rio Ferdinand has praised James Maddison’s impact at Leicester this season
  • Joe Cole believes England must make the most of their various creative talents 
  • Gareth Southgate has some tough calls to make choosing his World Cup squad
  • Maddison, Jack Grealish, Mason Mount and Phil Foden are battling for a place 

Rio Ferdinand has praised James Maddison amid calls for the Leicester star to be included in England’s World Cup squad.

Maddison only has one England cap to his name, which came back in 2019, but his form in the early stages of this season could make him difficult for Gareth Southgate to ignore. 

Heading into Saturday’s game against Manchester City, Maddison had scored six goals and provided two assists across ten league games in 2022-23.

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Rio Ferdinand has praised James Maddison, saying his statistics this season are ‘frightening’

Ferdinand suggested that Maddison isn't guaranteed to be involved at the World Cup in Qatar

Ferdinand suggested that Maddison isn’t guaranteed to be involved at the World Cup in Qatar

Though while he described Maddison’s statistics as ‘frightening’, Ferdinand also also admitted he isn’t guaranteed to be involved at the World Cup, especially with Jack Grealish battling for a place.

Speaking on BT Sport, the Man United legend said: ‘There’s no doubt Maddison is in great form, his numbers are frightening. Pep [Guardiola] said Maddison’s in great form. They’re both talented. Sometimes the most talented players don’t actually get time on the pitch.’ 

Joe Cole admitted that picking between Maddison and Grealish is an extremely difficult task for Southgate. The pair faced each other on Saturday as Leicester took on Manchester City, and Cole suggested that England should field two of Maddison, Grealish, Mason Mount and Phil Foden at all times in order to make the most of the creative options at their disposal. 

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He also added that Maddison and Grealish ‘handle the ball as good as anyone in world football’. 

England boss Gareth Southgate has some difficult decisions to make before the World Cup

England boss Gareth Southgate has some difficult decisions to make before the World Cup

Joe Cole says he should play two of Maddison, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount

Joe Cole says he should play two of Maddison, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount

Cole said: ‘It’s like choosing between your children. I love both of them. When playing for England these players have not been given enough opportunities. We were crying out about players who can handle the ball when the pressure’s on. 

‘At least two of Grealish, Mount, Foden and Maddison should be on the pitch at all times for us to improve as a nation. These two (Grealish and Maddison) handle the ball as good as anyone in world football.’

In comparison to Maddison, Grealish’s statistics aren’t quite as impressive. The City star has only registered one league goal so far, with no assists under his belt.

However, Ferdinand suggested that statistics do not matter as much for Grealish as he is playing in the way City manager Guardiola wants him to. 

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The BT Sport pundit said: ‘Has Grealish done enough stats wise? I don’t think that matters to him. Pep wants him to get on the ball and draw players to him. Within the club he’s appreciated and respected.’

Rio Ferdinand suggested Grealish is impressing despite not having the best statistics

Rio Ferdinand suggested Grealish is impressing despite not having the best statistics

Joleon Lescott suggested that Grealish, who has been capped by England on 24 occasions, is more used to coming on as a substitute than Maddison, which could be a key factor when Southgate selects his squad.  

Lescott said: ‘It’s going to come down to the price tag. He was value to Villa because without him they don’t stay in the Premier League. I don’t think it comes to ability – Grealish is probably more used to coming on as a sub, is Maddison able to do that? Maddison’s the best free-kick taker but if Kane’s on the pitch he’s not taking a free-kick.’

England have to submit their final squad for the World Cup on November 14.  

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