England boss Gareth Southgate hints at who’ll be Trent Alexander-Arnold’s replacement at the Euros after he was ruled out due to injury.
The Liverpool defender could be seen limping off the pitch in the Three Lions’ 1-0 friendly win against Austria at the Riverside Stadium.
Following a scan, it has been confirmed that the Premier League player suffered a hamstring tear which will now keep him out of the much anticipated tournament.
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It has made Southgate’s preparation for Euro 2020 far trickier than he hoped, with many fans, pundits and players questioning who will be replacing him.
With around a week to go before England’s opening Group D game against Croatia, the 22-year-old joins his Liverpool teammate Joe Gomez as a key defender missing from the England squad while injuries to the captains of Liverpool and Manchester United in Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire remain ongoing concerns as the days tick by.
Southgate says he is eager to get Jordan Henderson involved in the opener, though there are fitness doubts over Henderson and Kalvin Phillips, while Jadon Sancho missed the friendly over Austria earlier this week due to illness.
It means a number of players were were named in the provisional but missed out of the final 26-man squad have a huge chance of clawing their way back in.
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Southgate admits he is keen to give Liverpool skipper Henderson as much time as possible to prove his fitness as he aims to make a comeback having missed the past four months due to injury.
“I don’t think it would be fair to rule him out of [the first game] but I think it’s clear to everyone how much football he’s missed,” the manager said.
“The timelines are getting more difficult with each training session he might miss, but I’m being very realistic about what’s possible here.
“It’s a decision we took [to select Henderson] because we have been able to take extra players and we feel he is such an important influence around the place.
“If we can get him close to being able to contribute on the pitch against Croatia that will be a real bonus at the moment.”
There are five outfield players on England’s stand-by list to replace Alexander-Arnold and the manager has confirmed one of those five will be promoted to the squad, to be chosen on Monday after their final warm-up against Romania on Sunday.
Given Alexander-Arnold is a defender, the Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins is unlikely to get the call, especially after Bukayo Saka’s impressive performance and getting a goal against Austria underlining the squad’s attacking depth.
The two defenders in contention are Ben Godfrey and Ben White, who share plenty of likeness beyond just their names. Both players are aged 23, both specialise at centre-back but have showed their versatility this season for Everton and Brighton respectively, and both made their senior England debuts against Austria as second-half substitutes.
Having come up through the England youth ranks, something Southgate values highly as a former England U21 manager, Godfrey may have the edge over White should a defender be chosen to replace Alexander-Arnold. Though it seems unlikely: England are still well-stocked in defensive areas with five full-backs and four centre-backs, and it was notable that Southgate described their opportunities in this squad as a chance “to gain experience”.
The only other outfield players on stand-by are two very different midfielders in Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse.
Lingard is a more attacking option, and one of the few players in the squad who could cover for Mason Mount in that attacking role with licence to run beyond Harry Kane. Those type of long runs from deep were notably missing against Austria, and it highlighted Mount’s importance to the way England play; Lingard started the game wide on the right but would be a useful second option in a central role, and was subbed off.
Ward-Prowse is described to be more of a specialised central midfield player with the added bonus of carrying excellent set-piece delivery.
Centrally down the pitch is somewhere this England squad lacks depth, something which will be even more exposed if Henderson fails to fully recover from the groin issue.
Henderson was supposed to feature against Austria but felt a tweak on Wednesday morning and wasn’t risked, so Ward-Prowse could be an important replacement to the already selected midfielders Mount, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips (himself nursing a shoulder injury) and the teenage Jude Bellingham.
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Southgate has high value on his personal relationships. He highlights the importance of loyalty and trust just as significantly as talent and form, and prioritises finding a blend of characters to build each squad.
The manager knows Ward-Prowse well from his time with England U21s, and knows Lingard from the 2018 World Cup in which the midfielder was integral of England’s run to the last four. These personal connections are another reason why they are the frontrunners for a place in Southgate’s squad given Alexander-Arnold’s withdrawal.
“Jesse’s response to the situation has been immense,” Southgate said after the game, referring to Lingard’s reaction to missing out on the initial squad for Euro 2020. “As has Prowsey and Ollie [Watkins]. It’s a really difficult situation for those lads to miss out as they have, but they’ve shown commitment.”
Between the midfield duo, it may come down to a case of squad balance. Alexander-Arnold brought high-quality set-piece delivery and this is Ward-Prowse’s speciality. This talent along with his natural ability to deputise for the still-injured Henderson makes Ward-Prowse a more sensible fit in the group than Lingard, and this may just tip the balance in his favour.
As Gareth Southgate hints at who’ll be Alexander-Arnold’s replacement at the Euros, fans gave their reaction, something you can do via our socials!
@JoeSFC_: ward prowse makes sense we already have 5-6 attacking midfielders
@StFinlay77: James ward prowse @Prowsey16
@Nobzie83: Got to be Ward-Prowse now. Someone with his free kick conversion rate is a must with Grealish in the squad.
@JoeDaly87: Need another right back
@thfcsteven1: Huge blow for England he was their best right back
@JamesGlasspoole: There are too many better players in Lingard’s position making it pointless in calling him up. JWP or Ben White make far more sense in terms of back up.
@ewanwhite1999: James Ward-Prowse anything else is wrong.
@jedibikrt76: Southampton captain for sure, works hard at his game
@Mal_TQ: Ben White
@Conpne03: Ward-Prowse makes the most sense
@WillsfcMitchell: Ward Prowse and it’s a no brainier. Of course the plastic big 6 fans will say he’s a ‘free kick merchant’ but they don’t have a clue.
@SuneJim442: Ward Prouse, we never need 4 RB’sin the first place and Southgate stated TAA was included for his versatility in the midfield now actually include a midfielder we only have 5. We’re well covered with attacking players no need for Lingard.
@MAshby1001: Ward-Prowse. We have enough right backs without TAA, but we could do with another set-piece taker.
@MUNUTD7S: Ward Prowse – Set piece specialist
@LUFCPeachey: Ben White played great last night and had the versatility needed
@matt_duce1980: I’d take and play Ward Prowse with the amount of times Grealish is gonna be fouled around the box.
@mendi14: Although a thought lingard was poor last night he would be my pick, had a very good 2nd half to the season and has performed at the highest level b4
@wanna_be_dj: It would be Jesse for me. Game changer. But Ward-Prowse should be in the squad regardless.
@Paddy33Singh: JWP for me has to be with players like Foden & Grealish in the team you’d expect a lot of free kicks in dangerous area JWP has to be on them
@BattMlackk95: Neither one is going to be a starter so surely take Ward-Prowse for his set pieces
Fans continued to react as Gareth Southgate hints at who’ll be Alexander-Arnold’s replacement at the Euros…
@CFCAzza97: Ward-Prowse no debate
@PeteDonnelly6: Ward prowse. A quality free kick taker after Europe’s most fouled player wins them.
@mitchdavis_1: Ward prowse to add something to the midfield – lingard is just yet another attacking player
@tudor_ant: No doubt he will pick lingard thou, The amount of times grealish will get fouls ward prowse should be top. scorer of freekicks
Lingardinho pulling up to join the england squad likepic.twitter.com/rLzj2hu35j
— Hassan 🪐 (@KingHassan__) June 3, 2021
Bring him in pic.twitter.com/P2EB1RIsj1
— Brucey (@Brucey_47) June 3, 2021
The votes are in. The final act joining the England squad is….
Jesse Lingard pic.twitter.com/Tv9i6yxQk4
— WBA Rainbow Stand 🅙 (@TheRainbowStand) June 3, 2021