Southgate wants ‘low-maintenance’ Maddison for England

England boss Gareth Southgate has called for a degree of patience with James Maddison, but urged the Leicester star to be “high-performance, low-maintenance”.

The Foxes playmaker hit the headlines last month when he was pictured in a casino on the night his international team-mates lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic.

Maddison had been part of the squad but pulled out due to illness and the 22-year-old, who remains uncapped, was told to learn from the experience by Southgate.

Despite his misdemeanour, the former Norwich attacker is still part of the England set-up and will hope to make his debut in the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo next week.

Southgate said: “I didn’t feel the need to make a special case to call him. I wanted to see whether we would be selecting on form.

“I think it would be dangerous territory for me to go on a moral crusade over something that I don’t think was a good decision but was in his own time and we had released him from the squad.

“I’m not perfect and a lot of the players that we selected have had their moments. I didn’t think this was one to hinder him in terms of selection.

“But it’s not a good situation for a player when we’re talking about him in Sofia, and talking about him here and he’s yet to get on the pitch for us, so that’s the challenge.

“You want to be high-performance, low-maintenance. I am prepared to work with players who are more difficult but you’re more likely to back those players if they’ve scored a winner for you and sweated blood for you, and that’s the bond you build with those players over a longer period of time.”

Now Maddison remains part of Southgate’s squad, the challenge for him is to force his way into the starting XI.

The Three Lions boss admitted it will take time for the in-form Leicester ace to feel settled in the group.

“My focus is their capability to be an important part of the group and whether they are good enough to be in the squad, and then whether they fit into everything that this group needs to win,” Southgate added.

“We still feel James has the opportunity to do that, so that’s why we picked him.”

He continued: “It’s a natural process for a young player to go through, that initially you’re finding out where you sit in the group.

“That’s why the teams that win tend to have a fair amount of experience in terms of caps and tournament experiences, successes at club level because you can see with somebody like Raheem (Sterling) now, it’s the focus.

“Raheem and Harry (Kane), it’s not – yes, they want to score goals and they want to get caps, but how does the team win? And they’ll get frustrated if the team don’t win.

“Younger players, it’s a natural thing for them to feel a little differently until they’ve established themselves in the group and they’re a part of that core group.”

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