'I've got a few levels to go yet' - Former City star Maddison is just getting started as a Premier League force
Archant Norfolk 2018
Ahead of his Carrow Road return, James Maddison talks to David Freezer about his early Premier League progress since leaving Norwich City and his hopes of developing into a fully fledged England international.
He may have taken to the Premier League like a duck to water but James Maddison says he’s just getting started as a top-flight talent.
The playmaker who lit up Norwich City’s disappointing last campaign has started all four top-flight games for Leicester since sealing a summer move worth in excess of £20million.
Tonight brings a rapid return to Carrow Road for the 21-year-old, when Canaries fans can see their reigning player of the season strut his stuff on his former stomping ground again, in an England Under-21 qualifier.
After a brilliant season of 15 goals and 11 assists, City fans knows what Maddison can do already – and now he’s setting about showing it for Leicester and England.
“I’ve got a few levels to go yet,” the returning City star said. “Just to establish myself in the Premier League, I’ve played four games, started all four games and done reasonably well.
“But I know within myself that I’ve got another gear to go but it’s going to take time, I’m adjusting.
“The league, as everyone knows, is a lot quicker and stronger than others – it’s the best players in the world.
“So you have to adapt your game and learn and I’m sure the more games I play in the Premier League I play, the more I’ll learn.”
The Young Lions face the Netherlands in a crunch European U21 Championship qualifying clash (7.45pm), in which victory will leave Aidy Boothroyd’s side firmly in control of their group.
Seeing Maddison and Angus Gunn back in action at Carrow Road is the big attraction for the Norfolk public though, with both likely to play major parts in the game.
The Coventry City academy product is just as excited to be back in Norwich though, as he admits he now thinks of himself as a Canaries supporter as well, so was pleased to see his former team-mates fight back to draw at Ipswich on Sunday.
“I was relieved when Moritz scored to be honest,” Maddison continued. “I’m almost a Norwich fan now, it’s one of the first results I check and I was glad to see the unbeaten run keep going.
“I didn’t see the full game but as long as we didn’t lose, I was happy.
“That goal at Portman Road (his winner last season) is one that sticks out straight away in my mind.
“I was just kind of coming into the team and establishing myself at that point, so to score that goal in such a big game, live on TV, was one of the goals that I’ll always remember.”
Maddison knows he will have to be patient for his senior chance with England and is concentrating on adding to his three caps at U21 level, with Norwich-born Gunn – City’s number one last season – already having 11 U21 caps to his name.
“That’s the dream for me and Angus. I’m sure he’ll tell you it’ll be a special feeling playing here in an England jersey instead of a Norwich one,” Maddison said.
“The senior team is the dream, the pinnacle.
“As a young boy growing up you always want to play for England, that’s the dream. It goes without saying, if you asked every young boy across the country they’ll say they want to play for England when they’re older, and it’s no different for me.
“I’m taking small steps and hopefully I can get there one day.”
Also in the squad for tonight’s game are Leicester team-mates Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell, Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke, Everton duo Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewis and Chelsea pair Tammy Abrahams and Mason Mount – just some of a talented group which already has plenty of Premier League experience.
“We’ve got such a good squad, the ability within the squad is high and training is sharp all the time,” Maddison added.
“You come away with England and it’s 100 miles per hour because the quality is there, the touch is there at all times, so if you have a bad touch the ball is getting taken off you at international level.
“The Dutch are a big threat, they’re a good side, we know it’s not going to be easy but I think three points would be brilliant for us, and in terms of qualification it would really push us on, so hopefully we can get the win.”
• Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for concessions, from TheFA.com/tickets, by calling 01603 721902 or from City’s ticket offices.