James Maddison is expected to miss England’s opening game at the World Cup yesterday due to a mild knee problem that again kept him out of training. The Leicester midfielder, who was a surprise addition to Gareth Southgate’s squad, has been struggling since he limped during his win against West Ham last weekend. Maddison has not trained properly since Wednesday and is unlikely to be involved in England’s Group B match against Iran on Monday.
The potential absence of the 25-year-old is a huge blow for England. Maddison was unlikely to start at the Khalifa International Stadium, but could have been a useful option on the bench. It is believed that his injury is not serious and there is confidence that he will be available when faced with England, Wales and the USA.
Maddison’s possible absence will increase Conor Gallagher’s chances of appearing in some roles, and the midfielder is confident his energetic style will give him a chance to make a positive impact in the Qatari heat. Gallagher was not called up for England’s Nations League games in September and did not expect to be on the plane after battling for a regular starting position at Chelsea. The 22-year-old had made the bold decision to return to the youth club after playing on loan at Crystal Palace last season, and his international hopes seemed threatened when he was sent off for two penalties in the first half of his Chelsea win. over Leicester in August.
There was a feeling that Gallagher, who has played eight games this season, would be better off returning to Palace. Eyebrows were raised when the Chelsea academy graduate removed Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse from Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for Qatar.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it,” Gallagher said. “I was a bit surprised. I haven’t played consistent football with Chelsea and as a team Chelsea haven’t played great this season – we definitely have a lot to improve and I’m sure we will.
But I am very grateful and honored that the England manager believed in me and saw what I could do when I played for Chelsea this season and of course last season. This is football. The road will never just go up. There are always bumps in the road. It’s just about continuing to believe in myself.”
Southgate revealed that Gallagher with four hats could bring something different to England. He offers a goal threat from midfield and can be a useful option on the bench when England play Iran. The stadiums are air-conditioned but starting at 4 PM can still be difficult for Southgate players.
“I feel like I can bring energy forward and defensively as well,” Gallagher said. “No matter what position the manager assigns me, I will do my best to be as effective as I can on the pitch. Whether it’s scoring a goal or trying to get the ball back, that’s what I can do.”
Britain stepped up its preparations by retraining in scorching conditions on Friday. At 12.30 pm local time at the base of Al-Wakrah Sports Club, they took the field at 33C for the second day in a row.
“It’s a big difference from the cold and wet weather at home, but I feel like we’ve adapted well,” Gallagher said. “When the first game comes, we will be eager to go no matter what the temperatures are.”
Former Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has previously compared Gallagher to N’Golo Kanté. “When he said that, it made me laugh and it kind of surprised me,” Gallagher said. “Even if I’m half the player Kanté is, that’s definitely a big compliment because I feel like he’s the best midfielder in the world. Obviously we are different players. He probably wanders around a little more than I do. He’s a little smarter than me.”
Despite its modesty, it’s clear Southgate values Gallagher. The 22-year-old was successful when he was given opportunities by Graham Potter, who replaced Tuchel in September. He scored his first goal for Chelsea in October and impressed Southgate by accepting a call-up to the Under-21 team when he was not included in England’s Nations League camp. “If I hadn’t done my job properly and gone and played with the 21s, I probably wouldn’t be here now,” Gallagher said.