Newcastle United £60m transfer target a World Cup injury doubt after missing training twice

James Maddison is a doubt for England’s World Cup opener against Iran on Monday after withdrawing from training for the second consecutive day.

The Leicester City midfielder, who has been targeted by Newcastle United, suffered an injury scare ahead of the tournament after being forced off early in The Foxes final Premier League match before the World Cup break. Maddison scored an early goal in a 2-0 win at West Ham United before being taken off shortly afterwards.

The suspected knee injury wasn’t deemed serious enough to prevent the 25-year-old travelling with the England squad to Qatar.

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But after leaving England’s training session at the Al Wakrah SC Stadium in Al Wakrah, just south of Doha on Thursday, Maddison has also sat out Friday’s session. With England kicking off their World Cup at 1pm on Monday, Maddison’s chances of starting the game are slim with Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol stating it ‘doesn’t look good’ for the player.

England's James Maddison leaves a training session at the Al Wakrah SC Stadium in Al Wakrah, south of Doha on November 17, 2022, ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football tournament. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Newcastle stars Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson and Nick Pope trained with the squad as usual on both days with Trippier pushing to be named in the starting line-up for the World Cup opener. Wilson and Pope are both likely to be named on the bench.

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Maddison was outlined as a top transfer target for Newcastle in the summer as Leicester rejected two bids from The Magpies. The Foxes were holding out for £60million in the summer but that figure could well rise come January given the attacking-midfielder’s impressive start to the season.

In 13 league matches, Maddison has contributed seven goals and four assists for Leicester. And Newcastle right-back and Maddison’s England team-mate Trippier was full of praise for the player following his call-up to Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for Qatar.

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“He’s probably one of the best in the world [at free-kicks], Madders,” Trippier said on an England pre-tournament zoom conference. “If we’re both playing and he wants a free kick, we’ll just have to do rock, paper, scissors on the pitch!

“When you see Madders put up photos of when he was a young kid [supporting England]. He’s proud of probably the challenges he’s had in his whole career and what he’s sacrificed to make a major tournament, so full credit to him because he absolutely deserves it.”