By Andy Sims, PA
James Maddison’s World Cup place could be in jeopardy after he limped off during Leicester’s 2-0 win at West Ham.
The midfielder, called into Gareth Southgate’s England squad on Thursday, went down holding his leg in the 23rd minute at the London Stadium.
After receiving treatment on the pitch the midfielder, who had opened the scoring with his seventh goal of the season, gingerly left the field.
With England’s first match just nine days away, even a relatively minor injury could mean Maddison missing out in Qatar.
It would be a cruel blow for a player whose exceptional form this season prompted Southgate to call him up after three years in the international wilderness.
However, the sight of Maddison sitting behind the substitutes’ bench laughing and smiling with his team-mates suggested the injury may not be as serious as first feared.
Just 15 minutes earlier Maddison had illustrated exactly why Southgate turned to him.
His clever flick started the move in midfield, and when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s low cross was helped on by Patson Daka, the 25-year-arrived at the far post to sweep the ball home.
But soon after Maddison was sitting in the centre-circle holding his leg and being consoled by Three Lions team-mate Declan Rice.
The injury overshadowed another fine win for Leicester with winger Harvey Barnes, himself once capped for England in 2020, wrapping it up late in the second half.
West Ham also suffered an injury blow in the first half when defender Kurt Zouma, who hurt himself in the warm-up, hobbled off.
Yet the hosts, in desperate need of a win after a miserable run of results, perked up after Maddison’s departure and Said Benrahma and Lucas Paqueta forced fine saves from Danny Ward.
Tomas Soucek had the ball in the net but Jarrod Bowen, one of the players who could potentially replace Maddison in the England squad, was offside in the build-up.
Shortly before half-time Leicester were awarded a penalty after VAR correctly ruled that Craig Dawson had fouled Daka in the area.
Youri Tielemans stepped up to take the spot-kick but his effort was saved by Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
It was a major let-off for West Ham, who went in search of an equaliser after the break with Rice heading narrowly over and Gianluca Scamacca just failing to get on the end of Thilo Kehrer’s cross.
But just as the Hammers were building up a head of steam, a cross-field pass from substitute Pablo Fornals was intercepted and Leicester broke.
Ayoze Perez noticed Barnes tearing past him down the left and played a perfectly weighted pass for the 24-year-old to slot past Fabianski and seal a fourth Premier League win in five matches for the Foxes.