Gareth Southgate was unable to commit to whether Harry Maguire will play any part for England at Euro 2020 but was more positive about Jordan Henderson.
England’s Euros campaign a week on Sunday, when they face Croatia. Southgate has a 26-man squad at his disposal but not all those players are at full fitness. For example, Maguire was called up despite missing the end of the season with Manchester United. The same went for Liverpool midfielder Henderson.
Southgate has previously admitted that both players – who captain their respective clubs – were chosen for their experience. But now, there is a risk that Maguire in particular might miss the whole tournament due to his ankle injury.
His manager said: “With any injury, it’s impossible to predict 100 per cent.
“Our medical team are pleased with his progress, and particularly over the last couple of days. We know there is always that risk, but all of the guide is that he should be available, and it’s a case of when he can slot back into training with the group and how quickly we can progress him.
“But of course there is always that risk with any injury that you only have to have one minor setback, and two or three days here and there really affects those timelines.
“So I’m very realistic about that. We’ve picked a squad on the basis that if we didn’t have him, we’ve got the players to come in, and if he’s able to be fit and available, then that’s a bonus for us.”
The situation looks more promising for Henderson, though. The midfielder has been out since February but could return for Sunday’s friendly against Romania.
Southgate said: “The plan, as it was on Wednesday, will be that he’s involved in the game. The last two, three days training have been a lot more positive for him.
“I think the confidence of having a scan that showed no issues has helped him to push forward with his rehabilitation and training. He’s been visibly happier within himself I think and that’s a positive sign.”
Southgate discusses Alexander-Arnold setback
Henderson’s clubmate Trent Alexander-Arnold will take no part in the tournament, though. After weeks of speculation of whether he would make the squad, he made it only to see an injury end his hopes.
It is a disappointing situation for the right-back, especially after Southgate spoke passionately about keeping him in the squad.
Now, having had time to reflect, the manager backed Alexander-Arnold to make the most of his opportunities in future.
Southgate said: “You know how rare these opportunities are and even though he’s a young player who is going to have those opportunities again, I firmly believe that, that’s a really difficult moment, for him especially.
“It’s a big disappointment for us of course as well. But you can’t help but first and foremost feel for Trent in this situation.
“The one thing I was pleased about, in that immediately after the game I didn’t like the look of the injury, at least it sounds as though he should be fine for pre-season and next season.
“But that is a very small positive in the situation he is. He was very upset, bitterly disappointed, and in those moments everybody is thinking about him.”
Southgate stuck to his word that he would only confirm his replacement for the full-back after Sunday’s friendly.
He said: “We want to see how we get through tomorrow’s game, be able to assess everything and then we’ll make a decision from then.
“There isn’t a rush. I think it’s important to have time to consider everything.
“We’re obviously talking about that as a coaching staff, but we’ll know more after tomorrow’s game on where everybody is physically, whether there’s any more issues. It’s important we get the positional balance right for the whole squad.”