JOE COLE believes James Maddison has the “personality” to be a World Cup game-changer for England.

Of all the players that Gareth Southgate picked in his 26-man squad, Maddison was the name that brought Cole the most pleasure.

Former Three Lions midfielder Joe Cole is 'so happy' to see Maddison in the England squad

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Former Three Lions midfielder Joe Cole is ‘so happy’ to see Maddison in the England squadCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun

The former Three Lions star said: “The big one for me was James Maddison.

“Form-wise and quality-wise he should be playing, but also because of his personality – he’s an England player.

“He won’t shirk the responsibilities; he’ll get on the ball.

“There will be times later in the tournament when the game might be in the balance and you need to be brave and accept the ball as a midfield player and he will do that.

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“You can play number 10s deeper now and we need to set the tempo of our games.

“I’m so happy he’s in.”

But ex-Chelsea winger Cole believes Southgate should drop Blues star Raheem Sterling.

Cole, who played for England at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, said: “As much as I love Raheem [Sterling], he’s not in form.

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“[Bukayo] Saka’s playing for the team at the top of the league, and the same could be said with Maddison.”

It remains to be seen whether Southgate will make the big call of leaving out Sterling, a hero of both 2018 World Cup and last year’s run to the final of the Euros.

But Cole remains upset that the Football Association “bottled it” when failing to appoint Harry Redknapp as England boss in 2012.

The former West Ham trainee said: “In 2012 I was in France and I was playing well with Lille.

“I went home for the night and went for dinner with my mum and dad in Essex.

“Harry Redknapp’s in the restaurant and he comes over, it was at the time when the England manager job was up for grabs, and he says ‘I think I’ve got it! You’re going to come into the next tournament, I know what you’ve got, I’ve been watching you, you’re back in!’

“Fast forward three days, there’s an announcement on the radio that Roy Hodgson’s got the job. I was just deflated, that was me done.

“He thought he had it. I think the FA bottled it in the last minute, he was the right man for the job 100 per cent.

“We’ve all seen what Harry’s done throughout his career – at that stage he would have got another level out of that squad.

“He has a way with players. He would have been absolutely brilliant and it’s one of their biggest mistakes.

“I think whoever’s making the decision just lost their nerve at the last minute and went with the safer option.

“Roy’s a brilliant manager as well but Harry would have been unbelievable.”

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Cole’s starting XI for England’s World Cup opener against Iran on Monday would be:

Pickford, Trippier, Stones, White, Shaw, Rice, Bellingham, Mount; Foden, Kane, Saka.

Joe Cole was speaking to William Hill’s Stripped Podcast



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