Stones out after concussion

Date published: Wednesday 17th June 2015 7:33

England under-21 manager Gareth Southgate confirmed Stones would sit out the first match against Portugal and said the 21-year-old was also unlikely to be fit in time for the second match against Sweden.

The injury comes as a blow to England, with Stones having played a key role in the qualification matches, but Southgate said the team were ready to “march on through” and expected Stones to be available later in the tournament.

“He’s bitterly disappointed. Our first thoughts are to lift his spirits as quickly as possible,” Southgate said.

“In terms of the group, we have a strong mentality and in all positions we have places where players have moved up to the seniors so we’ve had to look at other players during the campaign, with great competition for places in every of the field.

“Throughout the competition, we’ve not just relied on picking a first 11. I’ve tried to make changes each time for this sort of reason because you know when you get to the finals anything can happen.

“We’re ready to deal with that, the group are very strong, it’s obviously a great opportunity for everyone else.”

While the loss of Stones is a blow for England’s squad, it is the front three of Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Danny Ings who have been most spoken about in opposition camps.

With that Premier League trio in the ranks and an average of 2.8 goals per game under his tutelage, Southgate said he had no plans to change his team’s attacking approach.

“I think we have picked players to play a certain way and we have to stick with that,” he added.

“We don’t intend to change out style or our philosophy. We are very conscious that Portugal are a big threat in transition and in counter attack especially, so you’ve always got to work well without the ball.

“In terms of when we have it, we can’t play any other way. That’s why we’ve picked the team we have.”

“You always have a chance in games if you can score goals, and I think we’ve scored in every game we’ve played so that is a great position to be in.”

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