Gibson handed shock first England call-up
Chris Smalling has been forced out of the England squad through injury, leading Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson to receive his first call-up.
Gareth Southgate was already facing a defensive headache for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania as Gary Cahill, the skipper in Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat in Germany, was suspended and Phil Jones withdrew through injury on the eve of the friendly.
The Manchester United defender sustained a toe injury in what appeared to be a training ground duel with team-mate Smalling, who on Friday left the squad with fitness problems of his own.
The centre-back has returned to Manchester for treatment on the unspecified issue, with Southgate turning to uncapped Middlesbrough defender Gibson.
The 24-year-old was a regular for the England Under-21s during Southgate’s reign and has been linked with a variety of clubs having impressed during Boro’s Premier League campaign.
Southgate had not been planning to call up any reinforcements for Sunday despite the absence of Cahill and Jones, but Smalling’s setback has forced his hand.
“We’ll just assess over the next 24 hours if we have picked up any other knocks,” the England boss said in Dortmund.
“I am not aware of anything signifcant at the moment so if that is the case we wouldn’t.”
England trained in Hertfordshire on Friday and Gibson will take part in Saturday’s session at Tottenham’s training base, where Southgate will speak to the media.