As reported by the Independent, Leicester City playmaker James Maddison has dropped out of the England squad for the forthcoming internationals against Czechia and Bulgaria.
Maddison is yet to make a senior appearance for England but the clamour is growing because Gareth Southgate’s current midfield options are looking a little bit stale from a creative point of view.
Ross Barkley was once a maverick in the mould of Maddison but has been forced out of the Chelsea side by Mason Mount, who was ahead in the pecking order during the last international break, while Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard have tailed off since the 2018 World Cup.
So who could take Maddison’s place in the squad? Phil Foden is one potential option, but Jack Grealish has been talked about in connection with the Three Lions for quite some time now. Is it the right moment?
TBR’s View – Grealish is an almost direct replacement for Maddison
Alli may well get the nod because he’s fully up to speed with Southgate’s demand and has credit in the bank with the Three Lions manager.
But it’s almost as if he was left out of the squad to give him a short, sharp shock as his season has not got going yet. The same goes for Foden, who could be England quality but doesn’t play enough for Manchester City.
Meanwhile, Grealish, like Maddison has played from the left more often this season and the maverick styles of the pairs are very similar.
He has outperformed Alli and Foden this season and would replace the ‘X Factor’ Maddison’s illness has robbed Southgate of – he’s the outstanding candidate.
It remains to be seen whether Southgate embraces Grealish’s qualities and whether he is willing to afford him the same free role at international level he gets with his club. But he would likely excite fans more than seeing Barkley’s name on the teamsheet in Prague tomorrow night.