BRENDAN RODGERS claims James Maddison's injury-plagued season cost him his place in England's Euro's squad.
The 24-year-old fell short of the fitness he needed to peak at the sharp end of the season.
Maddison failed to make the cut for Gareth Southgate's bumper 33-man provisional squad yesterday, let alone his final 26-man squad which he will confirm next week.
His pre-season schedule was disrupted when he had surgery on a hip injury in July and the painful problem returned just as he was hitting peak form in February, to sideline him again.
Now Rodgers wants Maddison to use this stinging disappointment to drive him on when he returns from a deserved summer break – fitter than ever.
He said: "James has been unfortunate the way the season has panned out.
"He didn’t start the season and it was difficult for him but then he got a run of games and was exceptional.
“He was creating and scoring goals. It was looking very good for him. Then, he’s picked up the injury and he hasn’t got back to the level of fitness he needs."
Rodgers says Maddison's mobility was hit by the stop-start nature of his season – a crucial asset for such a creative talent.
He explained: "When you are a very gifted technical player – as he is – you have to be able to move to be able to get on the ball.
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“Then, when you have the ball, you need the fitness to produce at such a high technical level. That’s something, unfortunately, that's just not quite been there.”
Rodgers expects those levels to return by the start of next season when he wants to see Maddison make himself a certainty for England's World Cup squad in Qatar.
The midfielder did himself no favours in April when he attended a house party to breach Covid protocols and Rodgers will expect hard lessons to have been learned.
He said: “This is going to be a big summer and, if he can then have a clear run, potentially there’s an exciting year ahead for him.
"But to compete at the top end of this league you need to be super-fit.
“There are some things a player cannot control. You can’t control the manager’s tactics, what position you are played in.
“But the one thing a player can control is his fitness and mentality. Unfortunately James wasn't able to get back to that level.
"Partly because the team’s been doing well, so he hasn’t been able to get the game-time. Partly because we had midweek games when he couldn't train properly."
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