Gareth Southgate is planning to include Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire in his Euro 2020 squad providing he is advised they can take part in the tournament; West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone is also in line for a call-up with Nick Pope due to undergo surgery
West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is in line for an unexpected call-up, with Burnley’s Nick Pope due to undergo knee surgery in the next few days.
Henderson has not played for Liverpool since the Merseyside derby on February 20, when he came off after half an hour with a groin injury that has kept him sidelined for more than three months.
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However, he has been training this week alongside the rest of the first-team squad and was an unused substitute in the victory over Crystal Palace in the final game of the season.
Jurgen Klopp said after the game that Henderson is “fine” and can now take a full part in normal training. England’s two warm-up games against Austria and Romania at the beginning of June will be crucial if Liverpool’s captain is to prove himself and improve his match fitness.
An injury picked up by Kalvin Phillips in Leeds’ 3-1 win over West Brom has added to Southgate’s shortage of defensive midfield options. Henderson, Declan Rice and Phillips all have fitness concerns, on the eve of the England manager naming his squad on Tuesday.
Maguire has been on crutches since he damaged ankle ligaments against Aston Villa earlier this month, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he’s unlikely to feature in Wednesday’s Europa League final against Villarreal.
Nevertheless, Southgate sees both him and Henderson as integral to his plans for the Euros, and despite their lack of game time, he wants to give each of them as much time as possible to recover, and prove their fitness.
FA officials are in regular contact with the medical staff at Manchester United and Liverpool, and unless the prognosis worsens in the next 36 hours, Southgate is minded to include both Henderson and Maguire in his squad of 26.
Pope missed Burnley’s final game of the season at Sheffield United, and while his knee problems are described as “minor”, there are real doubts he will be able to recover from key hole surgery in less than three weeks – England’s opening group game against Croatia is on June 13.
That’s opened the door for Johnstone, who was included in Southgate’s last squad in March in the absence of Jordan Pickford, but he never got a chance to make his international debut.
Once the Euros squad is named, Southgate can still make changes until June 1, when the final 26 names must be submitted for the tournament. Because of the complications created by Covid 19, UEFA will also allow squad changes up until a team’s opening game in the Euros.
Even more flexibility is allowed with goalkeepers. They can be swapped before each game in the tournament, if one of the three ‘keepers in the squad suffers a serious injury or illness (such as coronavirus).