James Maddison eased fears of him missing England's World Cup campaign after limping off in his final club game before joining up with the squad.

Despite only picking up one previous cap three years ago, Maddison's impressive form was enough to earn him a place in Gareth Southgate's squad for Qatar.

But that spot looked to be in serious peril when, in his final game for Leicester City ahead of the World Cup, Maddison limped off in the 25th minute having put the Foxes 1-0 up.

Clutching at his hamstring, there was immediate concern for the 25-year-old, but he alleviated those fears after the game.

"It should be fine," Maddison said as he left the London Stadium after the match with West Ham, which his side went on to win 2-0.

"Injury isn't too bad! A small problem that was causing a bit of soreness. Can't wait to meet up with the lads Monday," Maddison tweeted after the game.

Maddison's Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed that there should not be any problem with the midfielder's fitness for Qatar, telling reporters: "I’ve just spoken to the doctor, he said he’s fine.

"He just felt a little knock on the knee. We didn’t want to risk it for him or the team."

The news will come as a big relief to Maddison and Southgate with England's World Cup campaign scheduled to get underway against Iran on November 21.

James Maddison limped off injured in his final club game before joining up with England's squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

Thursday's announcement saw him included in Gareth Southgate's squad for the tournament having previously picked up just one cap, three years ago.

But after scoring a superb strike to put Leicester City 1-0 up away at West Ham, Maddison was then forced off through injury in the 25th minute, clutching at his hamstring.

The news will come as a big blow to Southgate, who said Maddison had "earned the right" to be included after registering the second most Premier League goal involvements among England players in 2022 behind Harry Kane.

With the Three Lions' opening group game against Iran just nine days away, Maddison faces a nervy wait to find out the extent of his injury.

If Maddison is ruled out, Southgate could call on Ivan Toney in his place, with the Brentford striker responding to missing out on Southgate's squad by scoring both of his team's goals in a shock 2-1 victory at Manchester City.

With little over a week to go until the World Cup begins, this weekend represents fantasy football bosses' final chance to rack up points before the festive period. 

The unprecedented timing of the tournament means uncertainty may reign when players return from Qatar, making a trusted fantasy favourite look appealing ahead of the Premier League season's 16th matchday.

With Harry Kane looking to maintain his fine run of form before jetting off to lead the line for England, can you really afford to overlook the Tottenham talisman?

For those seeking players going under the radar, meanwhile, could the improved form of two Midlands teams provide the answer?

Stats Perform is here to help, delving into the Opta numbers to identify four players to provide your fantasy team with the perfect pre-World Cup boost.

Aaron Ramsdale (Wolves v Arsenal)

Arsenal travel to Wolves looking to remain top of the Premier League for Christmas, and the division's joint-best defence (11 goals conceded, alongside Newcastle United) will be expected to shut out a Wolves side with just eight goals to their name this season.

Ramsdale – who has been included in England's squad for the World Cup – has played a key role for Mikel Arteta's side this campaign, keeping six Premier League clean sheets.

No goalkeeper has recorded more top-flight shutouts (six) than Ramsdale this season (joint with Nick Pope and Ederson), and the Gunners' shot-stopper has kept five of those clean sheets on the road.

Lucas Digne (Brighton and Hove Albion v Aston Villa)

Unai Emery made a dream return to the Premier League last week, leading Aston Villa to a 3-1 home win over Manchester United as Digne got on the scoresheet with an expertly taken free-kick.

Since the left-back made his Premier League debut in August 2018, only four players have bettered his tally of three goals from direct free-kicks in the competition – James Ward-Prowse (12), James Maddison (eight), Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier (both four).

During that same span, Liverpool duo Alexander-Arnold (54) and Andrew Robertson (48) are the only two defenders to better his return of 27 Premier League goal involvements.

Defenders with the ability to contribute in attack are like gold dust in fantasy football, and with Digne unlikely to cost the earth, the Villa man could represent a prudent budget pick.

Harvey Barnes (West Ham v Leicester City)

Leicester City continued their upward momentum by beating Everton 2-0 last week, with winger Barnes scoring his fifth league goal of the season to make the points safe late on.

Barnes has now hit the net three times in his last four league appearances and is averaging a goal every 200 minutes this term – his best rate across a single season in the competition.

This calendar year, meanwhile, only Kane (33), Maddison (22), Ivan Toney (21) and Bukayo Saka (19) have bettered Barnes' total of 17 Premier League goal contributions (nine goals, eight assists) among English players, and he may put out-of-sorts West Ham to the sword.

Harry Kane (Tottenham v Leeds United) 

Finally, Tottenham striker Kane is among the favourites to win the Golden Boot at the World Cup, and he should be expected to continue his strong form against Leeds United.

Kane has scored in each of his last six home appearances in the Premier League – the longest such run of his career, and only Erling Haaland (18) has bettered his tally of 11 top-flight goals this term.

The England captain has averaged a goal every 113 minutes of league action this campaign, a rate he has only improved upon in the 2016-17 (87 mins/goal) and 2017-18 (103) seasons, and Leeds look unlikely to keep him quiet after conceding 22 goals in 13 Premier League games.

EFL Cup holders Liverpool will go up against fellow Premier League giants Manchester City in the fourth round of the competition.

Liverpool needed penalties to get past League One side Derby County on Wednesday, while City have already seen off top-flight rivals in Chelsea thanks to a 2-0 win.

But the two were paired together in Thursday's draw, meaning there will be at least one major casualty in the fourth round, with games due to take place just a few days after the World Cup final.

Manchester United booked their place in the draw with a thrilling 4-2 win over Aston Villa on Thursday, and they will be confident of a more straightforward route through the next round after drawing Championship side Burnley, now managed by City great Vincent Kompany.

James Maddison has earned his place in England's World Cup squad by becoming "one of the best in the Premier League, his Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers believes.

Maddison was a surprise name in Gareth Southgate's 26-man squad announcement on Thursday, having made his first and only appearance for his country in November 2019.

His recent form for Leicester has won Southgate over though.

Since the start of last season, Maddison has been directly involved in 30 goals in the Premier League (18 goals, 12 assists), with only Harry Kane (38) recording more among English players.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Leicester boss Rodgers described the moment Maddison found out he was heading to the World Cup. 

"He was delighted. He had a missed call from Gareth just before we went out to training," Rodgers revealed. "I said to him to go into my office to make the call privately. He obviously spoke to Gareth and came out with all the joy of the world, so it was great for him.

"It's wonderful news for James and his family and everyone here in Leicester. I'm delighted for Gareth from a coaching perspective to have that talent available at a great tournament. His level of consistency, work ethic and talent over these last few years has swung that decision.

"He's a fantastic player, one of the best in the Premier League. I'm really delighted for him."

Maddison was listed as a forward in England's squad along with Kane, Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Callum Wilson.

Rodgers believes his versatility will make him a valuable asset, outlining the skills he is likely to bring to Southgate's team if called upon during the tournament, which begins on November 20.

"Everyone talks about his favourite position, but James has played across the front line to a high level," he said. "He's plays for me on the right side. He still scores and creates goals. He makes runs like a top winger. One thing he can do above a lot of players is that he can see the forward pass. That's absolutely key.

"He plays forward quickly. A lot of midfield players can conserve the ball, but you need players to see the pass. He's a player whose view of the game is fantastic. England have players who have talent and James has a special talent that can unlock tight games and defences and he can score goals."

Real Madrid are looking to Serie A for their next striker, with Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Milan's Rafael Leao interesting the Spanish giants.

Osimhen, 23, arrived at Napoli after a club-record €70million transfer from Lille in 2020 and quickly adapted to life in Italy.

Leao, who is the same age, was Osimhen's team-mate at Lille back in 2019 before being pried away to Milan. He was spectacular last campaign in helping Milan to their first Serie A title since the 2010-11 season, scoring a career-high 11 league goals, and has hit form this term, too.



According to Calciomercato, the only thing standing between Madrid and "another nine-figure investment" in one of Serie A's leading lights is the contract of 31-year-old winger Eden Hazard.

Forbes reports Hazard is making approximately €500,000 per week, and if Madrid can find a taker for him in January, or at the end of the season, their financial flexibility will vastly improve.

Come January, Leao will have 18 months remaining on his contract, and with numerous reports that negotiations for an extension have made little progress, Milan will eventually have to entertain the likelihood of a sale.

Osimhen has an extra year on top of that, tying him to Napoli until 2025 and giving the club plenty of leverage in any potential sale.


– The Evening Standard is reporting Chelsea have held multiple meetings with 16-year-old Palmeiras prospect Endrick, who is also a target for Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. He will not be allowed to leave for Europe until he turns 18 in 2024.

– According to TeamTalk, Tottenham are looking to replace goalkeeper and club captain Hugo Lloris.

West Ham and Leicester City are interested in 28-year-old Inter left-back Robin Gosens, per Gazzetta dello Sport. 

– Sport is reporting Juventus are willing to meet the contract demands of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, with the Italy international demanding €13.6m per year.

Barcelona are considering a move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who they view as a potential replacement for Memphis Depay, according to Sport.

Milan forward Rafael Leao continues to be linked with a host of top European clubs who are plotting January moves.

Leao won last season's Serie A Footballer of the Year and has maintained his fine form this term.

The 23-year-old forward is contracted with Milan until mid-2024, prompting interest to prise him away from the Rossoneri.



Milan are preparing for January bids from Chelsea and Manchester City of approximately £105 million for Rafael Leao, reports Tuttomercato.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain have also shown an interest in the Portuguese attacker.

Milan are still working on a new deal with Leao before he departs for the World Cup, hoping to tie him down on a long-term contract.



Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is considering trying to lure Dusan Vlahovic to Old Trafford as he prepares for life without Cristiano Ronaldo, reports The Sun on Sunday. Juventus forward Vlahovic moved to the Bianconeri from Fiorentina in January for £62million.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has told the club to sign Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans in the January transfer window, claims The Sun. Tielemans is valued at £40m and is out of contract at the end of this season.

– The Mirror reports Arsenal are also interested in a January move for Vitoria Guimaraes midfielder Ibrahima Bamba, having sent scouts to watch him.

– Calciomercato claims Tottenham are looking into a swap deal involving Emerson Royal in order to bring Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries to the club from Inter.

– Serie A leaders Napoli are preparing an offer for Barcelona's Jordi Alba, who is looking for first-team football, according to El Nacional.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's slim hopes of making England's World Cup squad may be at an end after he went down injured for Everton on Saturday.

Calvert-Lewin went to Euro 2020 as Harry Kane's back-up, having scored a career-high 16 Premier League goals in the prior season.

But the Everton forward appeared for a mere combined 17 minutes across two substitute appearances at the finals and has scarcely been fit since.

Calvert-Lewin was restricted to 15 league starts last season, scoring five goals, while Saturday's match against Leicester City saw him included in the XI for only the fourth time this term.

A sole goal against Crystal Palace meant Calvert-Lewin always faced an uphill struggle to reclaim his place in the England set-up.

His last international cap came at the Euros, since when Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney have been included in Three Lions squads, while Callum Wilson – another oft-injured striker – is fit and in form.

Another Calvert-Lewin setback on Saturday may represent the final straw, with the striker going down in the second half at Goodison Park and quickly being replaced by Neal Maupay.

Gareth Southgate is set to name his final 26-man England squad for the World Cup next week, having kept his provisional 55-man group private.

It is reported Wilson – seemingly the favourite to serve as Kane's understudy – was included in that initial selection.

Barcelona have reportedly reignited their chase of Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva, and are said to be confident in their ability to get the deal done in January.

Silva, 28, has won four league titles with City since arriving at the club in 2017, and is enjoying another strong season after setting a new career-high with eight Premier League goals in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Portuguese international with 72 senior caps has two goals and five assists in his 12 league appearances this season, and has appeared in all six of City's Champions League group stage fixtures.

Barcelona have been linked with Silva for months, but after recent reports claimed they had moved on, a recent development has positively impacted the Spanish giants' financial situation and put the City star back on their radar.



According to Sport, the retirement of Gerard Pique has resulted in significantly improved financial flexibility for Barcelona, allowing them to revisit their long-standing interest in Silva.

The report claims City may be hesitant to part ways with a key contributor in the midst of a title chase, but that Silva had previously asked to leave the club before the failed sale of Frenkie de Jong muddied the waters.

Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo adds Barcelona will look at 31-year-old Athletic Bilbao centre-back Inigo Martinez as their top choice to fill the defensive void left by Pique's departure.



– Calciomercato is reporting Chelsea are preparing to terminate the loan of Denis Zakaria, claiming they can not offer him regular starts and have no interest in activating the €28million buy clause in the deal.

– According to ESPN, Liverpool are the favourites ahead of Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United and City to land Borussia Dortmund phenom Jude Bellingham.

– The Leicester Mercury is reporting Leicester City will not allow Youri Tielemans to leave during the January transfer window, despite his contract expiring at the end of the season.

Milan are keeping a close eye on 22-year-old Spezia centre-back Jakub Kiwior, with Gazzetta dello Sport reporting they could make a move in January.

– According to La Razon, Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is interested in 25-year-old centre-back Pau Torres, who he coached at Villarreal.

Atletico Madrid were eliminated from Europe in midweek after a 2-1 loss at Porto and are looking to bolster their squad.

One player who could be sold is Joao Felix, who Atleti signed for €126million from Benfica on a seven-year deal in 2019.

The Portuguese forward has underwhelmed this season, with only two goals, and has been unsettled at times.



Cadena SER claims Atletico Madrid have put Joao Felix on the market and are open to offers for him.

Bayern Munich were rumoured to have made a €100m off-season move for Felix, while Manchester United reportedly had a €130m bid turned down in August.

Fichajes reported last month that the 22-year-old had handed in a transfer request, while Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have been linked with him recently.



Real Madrid are getting proactive in the pursuit of Palmeiras' 16-year-old talent Endrick, sending officials to Brazil to commence talks over a deal, claims Marca. Endrick cannot officially join Madrid until he is 18-years-old but Los Blancos are eager to get an agreement in place.

West Ham, Leicester City, Southampton and Brentford are all monitoring Lyon's Brazilian winger Tete, according to The Sun.

– Diario Sport reports Barcelona want to sign Athletic Bilbao centre-back Inigo Martinez as a replacement for the retiring Gerard Pique.

Leicester are weighing up their options for a Youri Tielemans replacement, keeping tabs on Lorient midfielder Enzo Le Fee, reports 90min.

– La Gazzetta dello Sport reports veteran French forward Olivier Giroud will be rewarded with a new Milan contract after the World Cup. The new deal will run until 2024.

Do you want to head into the World Cup break top of your fantasy league? Well, you're running out of time!

This weekend will be the penultimate round of games before a Premier League hiatus for Qatar 2022, with real-life teams aiming to get themselves in as strong a position as possible ahead of the Boxing Day resumption.

On the fantasy football front, given how tricky and unpredictable everything is likely to be after the World Cup, this is arguably a vital couple of weeks.

That's where Stats Perform hopes to help. They have delved into the Opta numbers to identify four players who appear smart choices beyond your obvious picks such as Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne.

Danny Ward (Everton v Leicester City)

This might sound like a rogue choice given he conceded 22 goals in Leicester's first seven league games this term, but the Foxes have improved defensively of late.

That's highlighted by the fact Ward has kept clean sheets in four of his past six appearances in the Premier League, with no one matching that figure since the start of October.

In his first seven games, Ward let in 4.7 goals more than he should have according to Opta, but his goals prevented since stands at 1.0 – he's certainly turned his form around.

Kieran Trippier (Southampton v Newcastle United)

Obviously, the trick to picking defenders in fantasy football is choosing those who are likely to keep clean sheets and also able to offer a threat going forward – Trippier is marking himself out as the ideal candidate.

Since his first Newcastle game in the Premier League, he is one of just five defenders to reach five goal involvements and contribute to at least seven clean sheets. Trippier's also played the fewest minutes of those players.

Six of those clean sheets have been kept this season, with Newcastle's defensive solidity impressing pundits, while his 31 chances created is a Premier League-high for defenders, highlighting his attacking threat.

Leandro Trossard (Wolves v Brighton and Hove Albion)

It's been a peculiar season in general for Brighton, though Trossard's form has been one of few constants.

The Seagulls will hope that last weekend's battering of their former manager Graham Potter's Chelsea side will bring momentum, and that could see Trossard – arguably in the former of his Premier League career – become even livelier.

After all, only four players have more goals (seven) than the Belgian this term, with his record of a goal involvement every 126 minutes roughly twice as good as his previous best over a full campaign (one every 255 minutes).

Callum Wilson (Southampton v Newcastle United)

Eddie Howe has attracted a lot of praise for making Newcastle sound defensively, but they also continue to possess a potent attacking unit and Wilson is central to that.

Not only does he have eight goal involvements to his name this term (six scored, one assisted), Wilson's record of one goal every 117 minutes in the Premier League in 2022 (936 minutes) is his second-best return over a calendar year in the top flight after 2015, when he only played 543 minutes.

He travels to Southampton with huge confidence, having had a hand in three goals against Aston Villa last time out, the first time he's managed that in over two years.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is known to be desperate for Lionel Messi to finish his career at his long-time club.

The 35-year-old Argentine forward departed Camp Nou hastily in August last year due to Barcelona's financial issues.

Messi joined the Blaugrana in 2000 and had an association with the club for more than two decades, scoring 672 goals across 778 first-team appearances.


Laporta is planning a move for Barcelona club legend Lionel Messi in the January transfer window, according to Sport.

The report states that Barcelona want to take advantage of the Fair Play situation in January, rather than wait for the off-season where the 1/4 rule will make any move more difficult.

However, Laporta's plan is full of obstacles for the Blaugrana to overcome, not least LaLiga's financial restraints, along with convincing Messi and his current club Paris Saint-Germain to part midway through the season.

Messi has publicly said he has deferred any decisions on his club or international future until after the World Cup.


– Sporting CP head coach Ruben Amorim may have distanced the club from links with Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in midweek but The Mirror reports that the Portuguese club will make a bid for him in January.

– Brighton and Hove Albion are open to selling Moises Caicedo amid interest from Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle United but have slapped a £85m price tag on the 20-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder, reports the Sunday Mirror.

– The Express claims that Arsenal are leading the race ahead of Manchester United to sign Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans. The Belgian could move to the Gunners for free, as he is out of contract at the end of the season and unlikely to pen a new deal.

– Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante - whose contract is also up at the end of June 2023 - is a major target for Barcelona who are looking at replacements for veteran Sergio Busquets, reports Relevo.

– Sport claims Barcelona are looking to offload Memphis Depay in January, with Juventus interested in signing the Dutch attacker.

Wolves are set to approach ex-Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui again, having failed to convince him previously to become their new manager, claims The Sun.

Pep Guardiola insists Kevin De Bruyne "is back" after his stunning free-kick beat Leicester City, while the Manchester City head coach confirmed Erling Haaland missed out through ligament damage.

City moved to the Premier League summit on Saturday as De Bruyne's wonderful 25-yard effort sealed a narrow 1-0 victory at the King Power Stadium, where the visitors were without top scorer Haaland.

Guardiola admitted he had expected more from the Belgium international in recent weeks, while the City boss is hopeful his number nine will be fit again for next weekend's clash with Fulham.

"Kevin De Bruyne is back," Guardiola told BT Sport.

"He was not playing good the last few games, but today he was amazing. He knows it.

"There was no space and we had to be patient. [Leicester] changed it, and it was a difficult game, because they had 10 players so deep and it's so difficult.

"After we scored the goal, they changed their rhythm and in the Premier League, the last few minutes are always difficult, so it's a massive victory for us."

Asked when he thought Haaland would return, Guardiola told BBC Sport: "I don't know. He has ligament damage.

"He feels better and we have one more week as he won't play against Sevilla [on Wednesday] because we have already qualified [in the Champions League].

"And then hopefully against Fulham, he can help us. If not, he might play against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup [on November 9]."

De Bruyne believes City demonstrated their ability to cope without Haaland, while the midfield maestro also paid tribute to goalkeeper Ederson, who showed marvellous reflexes to deny Youri Tielemans' thumping 20-yard volley.

"We have proved we can win with or without Erling Haaland," De Bruyne said. "Ederson has been great. Sometimes, we only talk about his distribution, but he's a great keeper, and he proves it every week.

"We made it difficult for ourselves, we were a bit tired. They were very negative for 70 minutes, but then their changes made it a different game.

"We didn't keep the ball in their half, but we still could have scored a second."

Kevin De Bruyne's stunning free-kick sent Manchester City top of the Premier League after a 1-0 win over Leicester City.

Despite the absence of top scorer Erling Haaland after a fever and foot injury, Pep Guardiola's side jumped ahead of Arsenal at the summit after dominating for large periods at the King Power Stadium.

De Bruyne sealed City’s fourth successive away win at Leicester early in the second half with a magnificent 25-yard strike into the top-left corner.

This result ended a three-match unbeaten run for the Foxes, who missed the chance to move clear of the relegation zone.

The visitors quickly established control, aiming to end their three-game scoreless streak on the road, but found Danny Ward in solid form.

Leicester's goalkeeper repelled headers from Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri, before blocking Bernardo Silva's vicious drive.

The Foxes had to wait until the 23rd minute for their first attack, with Harvey Barnes calling Ederson into action from a tight angle.

De Bruyne then stung Ward's palms with a powerful 25-yard attempt at the other end, but Guardiola's men were unable to convert their first-half dominance into an opening goal.

Rodri drilled narrowly wide within 40 seconds of the restart before De Bruyne broke the deadlock in the 49th minute; sending a pinpoint free-kick past Ward.

Youri Tielemans almost equalised in spectacular fashion four minutes later; Ederson tipping the midfielder's thumping 20-yard volley onto the crossbar after he sweetly connected with James Maddison’s corner.

Despite Patson Daka and former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho going close for Leicester late on, and Ruben Dias and John Stones almost contriving a freak own goal, the visitors saw out the victory.

Erling Haaland missed Manchester City's game at Leicester City on Saturday after the Norway international's early midweek substitution in the Champions League.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker left the action at half-time against his former club, with manager Pep Guardiola subsequently stating the striker was nursing a foot problem and a fever.

Haaland, who has scored a breathtaking 17 Premier League goals in 11 games already this term, had hoped to pass a late fitness test to feature for his side's trip to the King Power Stadium.

But with the teams in, it was revealed the 22-year-old had lost the battle to feature, with Guardiola instead favouring a front three of Julian Alvarez flanked by Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish.

Phil Foden and former Leicester player Riyad Mahrez were on the bench for visitors City, who were looking to jump ahead of league leaders Arsenal.

Victory for the visitors would see them vault to the top of the table, to increase the pressure on Mikel Arteta's Gunners, who face Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

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