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James Maddison has handed England an immediate injury concern after going off with an apparent hamstring issue just two days after being named in the World Cup 2022 squad.
The Leicester City man was one of the most-debated potential inclusions due to some exceptional form at club level and the fact he has rarely been selected by Gareth Southgate previously.
Ultimately his 2022/23 form has proven too impressive to ignore and the 25-year-old was named in the Three Lions’ final 26 – before departing early on the final Premier League weekend.
Maddison scored early on in the game to put the Foxes ahead at West Ham United, hammering a left-footed shot into the roof of the net for his seventh league strike of the campaign. However, he had to be replaced on 25 minutes shortly after a challenge. The midfielder headed straight down the tunnel to receive treatment and appeared to be holding the back of his thigh.
In a positive later update, manager Brendan Rodgers spoke after full time to suggest that Maddison will be fit for the World Cup.
“He’s fine,” Rodgers told BBC Sport. “It was just precautionary, a little soreness on the side of the knee. He hasn’t trained a lot this week. He’s OK.”
Maddison has won just one senior cap to-date but was potentially in line to feature in Qatar after thriving on the right side of Leicester’s attack of late.
England’s first game at the finals is on 21 November, giving him just nine days to make a recovery.
Man City duo Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips have been included in the England squad despite fitness concerns, but Chelsea full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell were left out due to their own injuries.
A host of names including Timo Werner, Gini Wijnaldum, Paul Pogba and Diogo Jota are also all set to miss the World Cup after picking up injuries this season.
Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden are the other attacking midfield options available in the England squad, while the likes of Jarrod Bowen or Ivan Toney – who scored twice at Man City after being omitted from the Three Lions’ squad – could be alternatives for Southgate if he is forced to name a replacement for Maddison.
Rodgers’ post-match words, however, will perhaps allay fears that the playmaker will need to withdraw.