Gary Lineker heaps praise on Southgate over World Cup decision: 'Well played Gareth'

The inclusion of the Leicester midfielder is seen as a surprise inclusion by many

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Gary Lineker has praised England manager Gareth Southgate over his decision to include Leicester midfielder James Maddison in the World Cup squad.

The 25-year-old is seen as a surprise choice by many, with his last England cap coming almost three years ago in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro.

The midfielder's fine Premier League form, which has seen him chip in with six goals and four assists this season, has rewarded him with a spot on the plane to Qatar.

Lineker took to Twitter to praise the decision, saying: "The right decision. Well played Gareth."

Gary Lineker is an admirer of James Maddison's ability.
Gary Lineker is an admirer of James Maddison's ability.

Speaking about the Leicester star man's inclusion, Southgate said: "He is playing really well.

"He is a good player. We have always said he is a good player. He has earned the right. We think he can give something slightly different to the other attacking players we have.

"He is playing as well as any of the attacking players in this country and he is a bit different to the others."

Gareth Southgate has unveiled his squad for the upcoming World Cup.
Gareth Southgate has unveiled his squad for the upcoming World Cup.

Southgate opting to select Maddison is not the only surprise to have arisen from the squad announcement, with relatively inexperienced options Conor Gallagher and Callum Wilson receiving call-ups.

Pressed on whether he believes the players will give England a chance of securing their first World Cup success since 1969, Southgate said: “We’ve wanted to make sure the balance of the squad is right.

“I think the squad is more important than ever. With five substitutes you can have almost half the team changed during the game so you want different options for different moments of matches and stages at the tournament as well.

“We’ve had to cover a couple of players that aren’t yet fully fit, so having 26 available meant we were probably able to take a couple of risks that you might not have been able to with 23, but we think the balance is there and we’ve got cover in the positions we need.

“We’re lighter on depth in some positions than others but we think we’ve got everything covered.”

England kick off their World Cup campaign against Iran on 21 November (13:00 GMT).