Liverpool and England legend John Barnes believes James Maddison is the ‘most unlucky’ not to be included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championship.
On Tuesday, Southgate named a 33-man provisional squad for Euro 2020, which is set to be reduced to 26 next week.
Leicester playmaker Maddison, who has impressed with eight goals and five assists in 31 top-flight matches and helped the Foxes lift the FA Cup this term, was one of the most notable absentees from the squad.
Barnes, who made 79 appearances for the Three Lions during a 12-year sting in his career, not only branded Maddison ‘unlucky’ not to be selected, but also said he should have been a starter at the tournament.
“For me, James Maddison has been the most unlucky in regards to the players who didn’t make England’s 33-man provisional squad,” he told Betting Odds.
“Before you select a squad you need to decide on the way you want to play and the formation you’re going to play and then choose the players you need to facilitate those positions.
Maddison lifted the FA Cup with Leicester but missed out on a Euro 2020 spot in a season of highs and lows for the midfielder[/caption]
“I think we’re going to play three upfront, with one down the middle and two players at either side. Now if that was up to me it would be Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford on both wings and Harry Kane in the centre.
“You now need a player to sit just behind Harry Kane and, for me, James Maddison is the perfect number ten to play with those three.
“You have Jack Grealish who is very good on the ball and loves to dribble, then you have Mason Mount who could also play in that midfield three as well as Phil Foden, but in terms of someone who can pass and create for Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling then I would have thought that player needed to be James Maddison and that’s why he is the most unlucky player to have not made the squad.”
talkSPORT co-host Trevor Sinclair disagreed with Barnes, though, insisting the 24-year-old doesn’t possess the physical traits suitable for international football, yet.
“The first ten minutes against Tottenham at the King Power [in Leicester’s final Premier League game of the season], he was brilliant,” he told talkSPORT host Jim White on Wednesday.
“But then he got substituted. It’s his physicality which is the problem, not his ability.”
Leicester ultimately lost that game 4-2 as they missed out on Champions League football despite sitting in the top four places for longer than any other top flight team this season – even winners Man City.
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“He was getting in the little pockets of space, making half terms and making Leicester tick,” Sinclair added on Maddison, who was criticised for his behaviour after the crucial defeat to Spurs on the final day.
“But he couldn’t do it for a sustained amount of time.
“I said it when Arsenal were playing against Villarreal. It was Dani Ceballos. He didn’t have the mobility or physicality to compete at the elite level.
“That’s why I think Maddison isn’t in the squad. A lack of ability to get around the pitch. His out of possession performance isn’t good enough.
“In an international side, you have to work in and outside of possession – and I don’t think he’s got that in his game yet.”