James Maddison backs ex-Sheffield United defender to 'do a job' on Kylian Mbappe in England's World Cup quarter final with France
England and France both cruised into the last eight after seeing off Senegal and Poland in the first round of the knockout stages in Qatar. Mbappe has been one of the tournament’s stand-out players with five goals and two assists in three starts while he drew a blank after coming off the bench in France’s final group-stage fixture against Tunisia.
However, Leicester City midfielder Maddison is confident that Sheffield-born Walker will be able to help England cope with Mbappe as he hailed the Manchester City man as one of the best full-backs in world football.
“He’s obviously a fantastic player, one of the best in the world,” he told talkSPORT of Mbappe.
“I’m sure we’ll prepare right to try and stop him. Kyle Walker started right-back in the game against Senegal and he’s one of the best full-backs in the world. I think if anyone can do a job, it’s him.
“But, listen, France have a lot of threats. It’s not just Kylian Mbappe. They’re a brilliant team and that’s why they are reigning champions.
“We’ve got a lot to be wary of but the tactical work that we do, and the staff here, the work that goes in on the background that people don’t see, will leave us in good stead hopefully, and hopefully we can progress.”
Maddison has yet to feature for England in Qatar, after he was ruled out of the first two games with a knee injury he sustained with Leicester City earlier this month. His inclusion in the travelling contingent for Qatar was his first call-up in three years.
The 26-year-old is “desperate” to be involved with the first XI but is still relishing being part of an England side at a major tournament.
“Involvement isn’t always necessarily minutes on the pitch and I think that is probably something I’ve learned in the last few weeks of being out here,” Maddison said.
“Of course every player wants to play and I’m no different. I’m desperate to get out there and show what I can do. But it’s one of them – my first major tournament at senior level and it’s brilliant to be a part of, you know?
“It’s such a learning curve and you gain so much experience without even realising, just on a day-to-day basis of how it works, what it takes to be successful – and we have been successful so far.
“What a brilliant performance last night, really convincing win against a good Senegal team in the knockouts. I’m feeling good, the injury’s gone. I’m feeling 100 per cent. I’ve been training for a while now, I’ve been available for the last couple of games.
“It’s just about staying patient, staying ready, which I am. Working hard and trying to be an option for the manager if needed.”