Leicester boss jumps to defence of former Canaries star after England casino controversy
- Credit: PA
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has jumped to the defence of former Norwich City star James Maddison, after criticism about a visit to a casino after pulling out of England duty because of illness.
The character of the former Canaries player-of-the-season winner was questioned in some national newspaper articles, after being pictured in a casino while England were being beaten 2-1 in the Czech Republic last Friday.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate added that an ankle injury had also caused Maddison a problem while he was with the national squad and warned the 22-year-old about the 'increased spotlight' now on him as a top Premier League performer.
Leicester boss Rodgers was asked about Maddison ahead of his team's home game against Burnley on Saturday and defended the player, who the Foxes paid an initial £21million to Norwich for in 2018, potentially rising to £25m.
"It was a difficult period for him, there is no doubt, he said. "The kid was going away with the international team, he took ill whilst he was away. He wanted to stay and hopefully be ready for the second game.
"But the England medical staff - he had the flu - didn't want it to spread to his team-mates and decided it was best for him to leave the camp.
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"He leaves, he gets some tablets off our guys at the club and he feels better. He watches the England game at home alone on the Friday and then goes out at half-time to a casino on his own.
"He will probably make better decisions in his life but he went to sit and watch the second half by a poker table.
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"The suggestions he left England purposely being ill and then goes to a casino are totally not the case at all. But his eyes have been opened to the wider world now. He knows in hindsight he made a mistake.
"But if you know him, you know he is not going to sit in the casino all night spending thousands of pounds of money. It is not what this boy is about."
Maddison scored seven goals and assisted another seven in 36 top-flight games during his first season with Leicester, earning his first senior call-up.
The creative talent has also started this campaign brightly, with two goals and two assists from seven Premier League games and has been called up by England in both international breaks, but is yet to win his first cap.
"He is a very talented boy and has a belief in his ability," Rodgers continued, speaking to the Mirror.
"He is a wonderful personality on the field and is actually a really good boy off it. He wants to learn and is desperate to play for England, that is his ambition and life.
"This is a boy who has played at the lower levels and has gone up to Scotland to further his education. He has played in the Championship and now finds himself in the Premier League. He is a big talent and he has shown that.
"He doesn't feel entitled to play for England but he really wants to. He talks about football and he practises everyday.
"His dream is to one day represent England. I am sure at some point in his career he will do that. But until that day he is going to fight and going to work.
"He will learn from his mistake. I've spoken to him and said to him: 'this is a safe environment for you'. Sometimes I will tell him things below the belt.
"But he knows the environment is here for him at Leicester to improve and develop.
"He won't always be told what he wants to hear but he understands he has maybe made a slight mistake in terms of where he went to."