Maddison backs Walker to deal with Mbappe but warns England of other France threats

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James Maddison backed Kyle Walker to “do a job” on Kylian Mbappe in the World Cup quarter-final but acknowledged England will have to deal with multiple France threats on Saturday.

The in-form Mbappe scored twice in Sunday’s 3-1 round-of-16 win over Poland, just hours before England cruised past Senegal 3-0 to reach the last eight in their third straight major tournament.

A pair of excellent right-footed strikes took the France forward to five for the tournament in Qatar, handing him the outright lead in the Golden Boot race as Les Bleus look to regain their world crown.

Former England defender Gary Neville labelled Walker as “the best right-back in the world” to deal with the Paris Saint-Germain star at the Al Bayt Stadium and Maddison echoed the pundit’s sentiment.

“He’s obviously a fantastic player, one of the best in the world,” the Leicester City midfielder told talkSPORT. “I’m sure we’ll prepare right to try and stop him.

“Kyle Walker started right-back in the game against Senegal and he’s one of the best full-backs in the world. I think if anyone can do a job, it’s him.

“But France have a lot of threats. It’s not just Kylian Mbappe. They’re a brilliant team and that’s why they are reigning champions.

“We’ve got a lot to be wary of but the tactical work that we do, and the staff here, the work that goes in on the background that people don’t see, will leave us in good stead and hopefully we can progress.”

While the likes of Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham have shone for Gareth Southgate in Qatar, Maddison is yet to appear for England.

The 26-year-old, who has just one cap to his name, missed the first two games due to a knee injury before Southgate opted for other options against Wales and Senegal.

Maddison hopes he will soon get the chance to impress as England aim for back-to-back World Cup semi-finals, though remains delighted to have experienced travelling to a major tournament with his country.

“Involvement isn’t always necessarily minutes on the pitch and I think that is probably something I’ve learnt in the last few weeks of being out here,” he added.

“Of course, every player wants to play and I’m no different. I’m desperate to get out there and show what I can do. But it’s one of them – my first major tournament at senior level and it’s brilliant to be a part of.

“It’s such a learning curve and you gain so much experience without even realising, just on a day-to-day basis of how it works, what it takes to be successful – and we have been successful so far.

“I’m feeling good, the injury’s gone. I’m feeling 100 per cent. I’ve been training for a while now, I’ve been available for the last couple of games.

“It’s just about staying patient, staying ready, which I am. Working hard and trying to be an option for the manager if needed.”

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