DOHA, Qatar (AP) — England's injury concerns are easing ahead of the World Cup, with Kyle Walker and James Maddison overcoming their previous fitness issues to take part in the team's first training session in Qatar on Wednesday.
Walker has been recovering from groin surgery needed after getting injured during Manchester City’s 6-3 win over Manchester United in the Premier League on Oct. 2.
Maddison, meanwhile, limped off in the first half of Leicester’s win over West Ham on Saturday because of a right knee problem.
They were at practice at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex, close to the England team’s hotel base for the World Cup, as all 26 members of Gareth Southgate's squad trained.
Maddison said he had had a “positive scan” and that he had no concerns. He said he had wanted to play at the weekend despite carrying a niggling injury.
“I had a little problem the week before the West Ham game but I wanted to play, I didn’t want to not give a it a go because of the World Cup," he said.
"That is not the kind of player I am, I wanted to help Leicester.”
Maddison was a surprise inclusion in the squad after being repeatedly overlooked by Southgate despite good form over the past year. He has made only one appearance for England, coming on as a substitute in a European Championship qualifier against Montenegro in 2019.
“I never felt like it (his England chance) had gone," he said at a news conference. “There were times I felt I was playing well and wasn’t selected but it is about having the right mindset, staying hungry and not thinking it is a closed door.”
Maddison said he missed the call Southgate made to tell him he had made the squad.
“The heart starts beating," Maddison said. "I had his number saved still, it was all a bit of a blur but once he told me I was in, it was a head-on-the-wall moment, a big deep breath and then I called my parents.
“My dad actually cried."
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The Associated Press