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Southgate urges England to adapt amid Mount and Chilwell coronavirus uncertainty

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Jun 2021

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Gareth Southgate once again found himself preaching calmness after coronavirus uncertainty hit England’s plans for their concluding Euro 2020 Group D game against the Czech Republic.

Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell are self-isolating after interacting with their Chelsea team-mate Billy Gilmour, who featured for Scotland in last Friday’s 0-0 draw at Wembley before testing positive for coronavirus.

The FA announced Mount and Chilwell had returned negative PCR and lateral flow test on Sunday and Monday respectively but, after then training with the England squad, they were advised to isolate following consultations with Public Health England.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, where Mount had initially been slated to join him, Southgate conceded both players were major doubts for the Czech Republic clash, which England need to win to top the group.

He will wait until Tuesday morning before making a final decision on his starting XI, by which point further advice on Mount and Chilwell’s case is likely to be forthcoming.

But, as he did in the immediate aftermath of a disappointing performance against Scotland, Southgate again urged composure under pressure – citing Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets testing positive for COVID-19 and Christian Eriksen’s shocking cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark as examples of the unexpected difficulties that can arise during tournaments.

“Spain had a similar situation, they’ve ended up drawing their two games. Denmark have obviously had a tragic situation,” he said.

“This is tournaments, you have to adapt, you have to respond. It’s why the depth of the squad is so important and calmness around whatever’s going on at any given time is critical.

“We don’t have all the information so we’re going to take our time to see exactly where we stand in the morning.”

Southgate also pointed out there was a wider context to be acknowledged when it came to football players being ruled out of matches against the backdrop of a global health crisis.

“It’s obviously a massive disappointment for players to miss any matches but we are in the same situation as everybody else in the country,” he said.

“Other people, their working lives and ability to earn money have been affected. In a more serious sense, the deaths we’ve had.

“Of course, at this moment in time, ours is a high-profile situation and it’s not ideal. But, in context, it’s just one we have to adjust to.”

Two players who will be available are Manchester United centre-back Harry Maguire and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, with their recoveries from respective ankle and groin injuries having restricted them to watching briefs so far.

Southgate praised their influence on the squad over recent weeks and the return of two experienced heads could come as a timely boost.

“Both are training very well and both will be involved tomorrow,” he said.

“We’re happy with their progress. Already, without being on the pitch they’ve had a massive impact around the training sessions and the squad.

“I couldn’t be happier with the influence that our senior players have had. Of course, they want to get on the pitch and are hoping they can play a big part in this tournament for us.”

Harry Kane’s form and the omission of Jack Grealish from Southgate’s starting line-ups have dominated recent discussion around the England side, although Jadon Sancho’s negligible role at Euro 2020 to date is also a curiosity.

The winger, who scored 16 goals and supplied 18 assists in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund this season, was an unused substitute against Scotland after missing out on the matchday squad for the 1-0 win over Croatia, where Raheem Sterling scored the only goal.

“We just have so many good attacking players. Raheem, Phil Foden in terms of wide players who can play in those area and come inside,” Southgate added.

“We have Jack Grealish, we have Marcus Rashford, we have Bukayo Saka and we have Jadon.

“If you weren’t asking me about Jadon, you’d be asking me about one of the others. That’s the nature of it.”

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