Darren Bent believes James Maddison should start for England now behind Harry Kane in a central attacking midfield role.
The Leicester City midfielder had struggled at the start of the season after suffering an injury, but has since recaptured his best form under Brendan Rodgers.
He has 12 goal involvements in his last 12 matches – six goals and six assists – creating both goals against Fulham in a 2-0 win.
The 24-year-old moved to the King Power Stadium in the summer of 2018, shortly after England crashed out of the World Cup in Russia at the semi-final stage to Croatia. A lack of creative talent was prescribed as the issue for the Three Lions, with perhaps Gareth Southgate’s main problem now dealing with a surplus of talent in his midfield.
Maddison has just one senior cap to his name, an appearance against Montenegro from the bench at Wembley in November 2019. Southgate could well name the midfielder in his squad for the World Cup qualifying triple-header against San Marino, Albania and Poland next month.
Former Tottenham and Aston Villa striker Darren Bent feels as though the mercurial midfielder has all of the technical attributes required to become a mainstay in the team before the European Championships this summer.
“His passing and his technique is second to none,” Bent said on Drive.
“But his passing…sometimes you think, ‘he can’t possibly try that’ and he doesn’t even have to look sometimes.
“He knows where his teammates are even if he has to hook it. Some people might think that is an unfashionable pass.
“But, as I said, his technique is brilliant.”
As mentioned above, England have an embarrassing wealth of talent in midfield these days; Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Ross Barkley and Harry Winks are just some of the names competing for a midfield berth. But Maddison relishes the competition.
“I watch England now and I know there’s a gap for me,” said Maddison. “I know I can go and make an impact on the international stage; it’s just about being patient.
“I’ve had a taste and I want more. Look at Jack Grealish — before the Belgium game in November he had never made a competitive start, and then he was the best player on the pitch.
“It’s about taking that chance and I know I’m capable. Hopefully it will come around soon.”
Bent, who collected 13 England caps and scored four goals during his playing career, believes there is a way of getting Maddison into Southgate’s starting XI alongside Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling and just behind captain Harry Kane.
“I would play him as a number 10, behind the front man,” Bent added. “So Kane would be up top, I’m playing 4-2-3-1.
“Him behind and then left and right; take your pick.
“Sterling , Rashford, Grealish can play out there.”