Gareth Southgate is hopeful Jordan Henderson and Jack Grealish “won’t miss too much football” after the duo withdrew from the England squad ahead of Monday’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino.
The Three Lions’ manager confirmed that both players suffered minor injuries in Friday’s 5-0 win over Albania.
Grealish did manage to train the following day, but he has now returned to Manchester City for further assessment, while Henderson has headed back to Liverpool.
England only need to avoid defeat against the lowest-ranked team in the world to qualify for Qatar 2022.
Speaking at a media conference on Sunday, Southgate said: “With Henderson it was within the [Albania] game. With Jack, we think a little bit perhaps within the game, but he trained yesterday. As a precaution, we scanned them both, so there are small injuries on the scans.
“We just hope that they’re not going to miss too much football ball from here on. It shouldn’t be too bad in either case, but we just have to see how that progresses.”
Southgate confirmed that Raheem Sterling has also withdrawn from the squad for personal reasons.
He also ruled Chelsea’s Mason Mount (dental) and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw (concussion) out of contention, with the pair having also missed the Albania game.
— England (@England) November 14, 2021
It was confirmed earlier on Sunday that Crystal Palace’s on-loan midfielder Conor Gallagher has been drafted in from England’s U21 squad for his first senior call-up.
Southgate insisted that both he and Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe – who made his senior debut off the bench against Albania – had been called up on merit.
When asked about older players like James Maddison, Callum Wilson and Patrick Bamford being overlooked, he said: “We haven’t had an opening for a forward, and Patrick’s been injured as well. In terms of the others, we think Conor and Emile are playing better than others that we could have called in, simple as that.
“The door is never closed. I like the idea of bringing young players in because you’re investing in England’s future.
“It would be easier perhaps in the short term to bring in an older player, but I’m not certain there are older players who are playing better than those two at this current moment in time in the positions they are playing.”
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