James Maddison is DROPPED for Leicester’s crunch visit to Newcastle as Foxes boss Dean Smith says his team ‘need to be harder to beat’ and insists England star and Harvey Barnes ‘see the bigger picture’
- James Maddison has been dropped for Leicester’s visit to Newcastle United
- The Englishman has been the club’s star player during a difficult season
- FOLLOW LIVE: Newcastle v Leicester – Foxes look to pull off shock victory
James Maddison has been dropped for Leicester’s most important game of the season against Newcastle tonight.
Leicester’s survival hopes could be seriously dented if they lose at St James’ Park, while a win would pull them out of the relegation zone heading into the final round of Premier League fixtures.
Foxes boss Dean Smith made the surprise decision to place Maddison on the bench for his side’s trip to the north east.
Maddison has been a rare bright spark in Leicester’s difficult season where the former Premier League champions have been dragged into a relegation battle.
James Maddison (left) has been dropped for Leicester’s visit to Newcastle this evening
Maddison (left) has been joined on the bench by fellow attacker Harvey Barnes (right)
The 26-year-old is joined amongst Leicester’s substitutes by fellow attacker Harvey Barnes who is another surprise omission.
Smith attempted to explain his team change by stressing that Leicester needed more defensive solidity to deny Eddie Howe’s Newcastle goals in the game.
Smith told Sky Sports pre-match: ‘We decided to change it, we need to be harder to beat.
‘The last couple of games we needed to score six and four to win them, so I felt we needed to make a change. We’ve also got an impact we can make from the bench.’
‘I had to think long and hard about it but watching their game against Brighton I felt we needed to get another centre-back,’ he added.
‘I want them [Maddison and Barnes] to be disappointed if they’re not playing but I want them to see the bigger picture.’
‘We’re looking to create chances ourselves. The good thing is before the weekend started it wasn’t in our hands, it is at this moment in time,’ he added.
Smith’s decision is a huge call given the club’s precarious position ahead of taking on a Newcastle side seeking to cement their place in the top four tonight.
Foxes boss Dean Smith (left) explained his decision to drop Maddison was purely tactical
Maddison (left) has been Leicester’s best player during a difficult season for the club
There are numerous Premier League permutations in the league’s survival battle with two relegation spots still yet to be decided.
Victory tonight would catapult them from 19th to 17th – and would put the pressure on Everton who they would be ahead of on goal difference, while a draw would draw them level with Leeds on 31 points.
Should the Magpies win then Leicester’s chances of remaining in the English top flight are slim as they will then need to beat West Ham at home on Sunday and hope that Leeds lose to Tottenham and Everton lose at home against Bournemouth.
Maddison has scored 10 goals and registered nine assists across all competition this season
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher quizzed Smith’s decision and labelled Maddison’s spot on the bench as a ‘gamble’.
‘It’s a gamble but they’re at the stage where you have to change something. I admire the fact he’s made a bold decision,’ said Carragher.
‘He [Smith] doesn’t owe these players nothing. If they go down he’s not going to be there. Maddison won’t be there next season if they go down or stay up.
‘I would still try and find a place for Maddison ahead of [Youri] Tielemans but he had to change something.’
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