James Maddison is set to be given another opportunity in the England squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Montenegro and Kosovo despite the controversy surrounding his casino visit during the last international break.
England faced the Czech Republic and Bulgaria last month but Maddison, who has yet to win a cap, withdrew from the squad because of illness. The Leicester midfielder was then pictured in a casino during the 2-1 defeat in Prague.
Southgate names his squad on Thursday for the Wembley fixture against Montenegro, which will be England’s 1,000th international and will be played next Thursday, and the game in Kosovo the following Sunday. Maddison is expected to be rewarded for his fine form in Leicester’s push to third place in the Premier League.
Whether he is joined in the squad by Jack Grealish remains to be seen. The Aston Villa playmaker is in Southgate’s thoughts and although a calf injury ruled him out of the 2-1 home defeat against Liverpool on Saturday – a game that Southgate attended – he has been declared fit by the Villa manager, Dean Smith.
Southgate must decide whether he can find the room for Maddison and Grealish, who are similar types of player and have no experience at senior international level.
Mason Mount is an injury doubt, having been forced out of Chelsea’s 4-4 Champions League draw against Ajax on Tuesday with an ankle problem, and his clubmate Ross Barkley is waiting to learn if he will be called up. Barkley started the 6-0 win against Bulgaria in Sofia, scored twice and did well but he has since played only 43 minutes for Chelsea. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dele Alli are pushing for recalls and stand to benefit if Mount or Barkley were not to be included. Jesse Lingard is likely to miss out again.
Southgate is expected to recall the fit-again John Stones, who has returned to Manchester City’s starting lineup since the last international break, and that could be bad news for Michael Keane. The Everton centre-half is struggling to find his best form and was dropped for his club’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Sunday.
The Football Association will celebrate the landmark game against Montenegro by inviting the 1966 World Cup winners to Wembley, plus every former England captain and every player to have won 50 caps or more.