Gareth Southgate admits James Maddison ‘concern’ but gives positive Kyle Walker update as England boss explains why his starting XI against Iran won’t please everyone

Gareth Southgate admits James Maddison 'concern' but gives positive Kyle Walker update as England boss explains why his starting XI against Iran won't please everyone
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England manager Gareth Southgate has given an update on injuries to James Maddison and Kyle Walker, while explaining why his starting XI against Iran is likely to divide opinion.

There are less than 24 hours until the Three Lions boss reveals his first squad sheet for the country’s 2022 World Cup opener – live on talkSPORT – in Qatar.


Southgate carries the hopes of a nation on its shoulders

Apart from questions about form, tactics and personnel, there is one player in Southgate’s squad who will definitely not play against Iran.

Leicester midfielder Maddison has not trained since England arrived in Qatar after suffering a knee injury in the 2-0 win at West Ham.

Southgate told talkSPORT: “He hasn’t been able to train so that’s a slight concern. The longer it goes on the longer it will take him to be available for games.

“But we don’t expect him to miss training any longer and we’ll just have to assess him from there.”

However, there is more positive news regarding Walker, who hasn’t played competitive football since Manchester City’s win over Man United in October.

The right-back effectively ruled himself out of the opener against Iran but Southgate claim his recovery is ahead of schedule.

Maddison Is The Only Player Currently Unable To Train


Maddison is the only player currently unable to train

But Walker [Left] Progressing Strongly


But Walker [left] progressing strongly

Southgate added: “He’s close, he’s been training with the group, so he’s slightly ahead of what we thought he might be.

“He’s an amazing athlete anyway, so he has natural advantages that one or two other players don’t.

“But also, the rehabilitation link between us and the Manchester City medical team has been excellent throughout.

“We are really happy with his progress, we didn’t expect him to train with the team before the first game and he is a few games ahead.”

England Put The Finishing Touches On Their Preparation


England put the finishing touches on their preparation

England are comfortably the top-seeded team in Group B, which includes the United States and Wales as well as Iran, and many are clamoring for Southgate to unleash an all-out attack.

However, when asked about the advantages of having four defenders rather than five, the pragmatic Three Lions manager delivered an amusing anecdote as to why his team selection will never please everyone.

Southgate continued: “There are strengths and weaknesses in every system. It is very important that you have the right personnel to be able to hurt the opponent and have stability in the team.

“Whichever direction we go, that’s always what we’re trying to accomplish. Our job is to pick the team that we think gives us the best chance of winning.

Southgate Knows Their Starting Xi Is Bound To Divide Opinion


Southgate knows their starting XI is bound to divide opinion

“Ours will be the only one that is not hypothetical. Whenever I attend a coaching course, one of the first things I do is ask everyone in the room to write down their England squad.

“I ask them who they have in the goal and we eliminate those who do not agree [with the majority]. Then we move to right-back and keep the most popular selection in each position.

“We never cross the halfway line until the whole room completely disagrees. So what chance do we have of getting consensus? Frankly, a consensus would not work.

talkSPORT World Cup 2022 coverage

talkSPORT will provide wall-to-wall coverage of the 2022 World Cup

We will broadcast all 64 matches of the tournament live, with over 600 hours of coverage on our network.

You can tune into talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 via our free online streaming service at

talkSPORT is widely available across the UK via DAB digital radio and on 1089 or 1053 AM.

You can also download the talkSPORT app or ask your smart speaker to play talkSPORT.


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