Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho will miss England’s friendly against Wales on Thursday and could also be absent for Sunday’s game with Belgium after breaking coronavirus rules, manager Gareth Southgate says.
Their inclusion in the squad for Sunday’s Nations League fixture depends on the outcome of coronavirus tests.
The three were among a group of more than six people at a surprise 23rd birthday party for Chelsea forward Abraham, and all have since apologized for breaching protocol.
“We just have to make sure to protect the whole group, that is key,” said Southgate. “The timelines on the incubation period are really complex and we have to manage that as best we can.”
The latest breach comes after Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden and Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood broke coronavirus rules while on England duty and were subsequently sent home from Iceland in September.
On Tuesday, Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who was called up to the senior England squad for the first time last week, said Southgate had warned the players about their behaviour.
“At the beginning of the week we had a good meeting with the and spoke about the responsibility of being an England player and how the spotlight is different,” Southgate said.
“I have also talked about the connection of the fans and we have 10 with us who were in Russia, they have done good work with their clubs, communities but some of the young ones have not done that and they need to prove themselves.
“They need to remember it is an honour to play for England, we have all made errors, I had nights out as player but we are living in unique times with Covid.”
‘Tight call’ on goalkeeping situation
Southgate said there will be a change in goalkeeper for the match against Wales, with regular number one Jordan Pickford set to miss out.
Everton’s Pickford has made a string of mistakes for his club recently, so either Burnley’s Nick Pope or Manchester United’s Dean Henderson will start.
“Jordan Pickford has made errors, Nick Pope made errors too at the weekend and Dean Henderson has only played League Cup games in changed line-ups,” said Southgate. “It is a close contest and all three we would not have any hesitation in putting in goal.
“We will make a change tomorrow and it is a good opportunity to put players in.
“We have had keepers retire because they have felt it is a difficult situation to handle and to give people the opportunity to show what they can do.
“It is a tight call, Jordan’s performances with us have been excellent, I am not oblivious what has happened to him at Everton and we have to try and help them be in their best possible form when they are with us.”
‘He’s called me Gary before’
Last week, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho apologized after mistakenly calling Southgate “Gary” while making a plea to the Three Lions manager not to overwork striker Harry Kane on international duty.
Southgate said Mourinho had messaged him privately to apologize.
“He has called me Gary before in a media conference,” Southgate said.
“I had no issue with that at all. He only needs to get one Gareth [Bale] right and he will score all the goals for him.”
He added: “In terms of the players, we have to look after all the players. I have been a player and I didn’t like it when managers took a risk with me but they never did.
“We don’t want players missing any football – I’m not prepared to risk players’ welfare.”
Grealish ‘an exciting talent’
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was one of four England debutants in the goalless draw against Denmark in September, although he was not named in Southgate’s original squad.
But Southgate told Radio 5 Live he has been impressed by the 25-year-old midfielder’s talent.
“I think what was good for him was to see the way that we work, to see what we are asking from him,” Southgate told Radio 5 Live.
“He is an exciting talent, we want to embrace that within the way we work and I think he also learned how we like to play without the ball as well and the importance of that in the biggest matches is really key.
“We were pleased how he showed in training last time and it’s been the same again this time.”
Southgate also said he was “delighted” to have Manchester United captain Harry Maguire back in the England fold after the 27-year-old was withdrawn from the last squad after a court case in Greece.
The center-back was given a suspended prison sentence on the Greek island of Syros after being found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and repeated attempts of bribery.
He maintains his innocence and has appealed against the decision, which nullifies the conviction.
“For me it’s just great to have Harry back with us,” said Southgate. “He’s been a massive player for us over the last two or three years since he came in.
“He’s an exceptional player, I find him a great guy to work with and we are delighted to have him back in the England squad.
“We would rather have Harry Maguire in our squad than not, that’s a 100% sure.”
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