Euro 2020 LIVE! England add White; Busquets tests positive for Covid

The final preparations for the tournament are almost complete as we enter the final days of build-up.

England’s preparations for the European Championship are complete, with wins over Austria and Romania followed by Ben White replacing the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Elsewhere, Billy Gilmour has moved to allay his own injury fears after being forced off during Scotland’s final warm-up friendly.

Spain’s preparations have taken a hit after captain Sergio Busquets tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday and is in danger of missing key games at the tournament. All other players in the Spanish squad tested negative.

Busquets will need to be in isolation for 10 days, meaning he will miss the opener against Sweden on June 14. Spain’s second match in Group E is against Poland on June 19, also in Seville.

Follow all the latest Euro 2020 news and build-up with Standard Sport’s LIVE blog!

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Nico putting in the hard yards

Neco Williams has revealed how extra training at Liverpool has got him into peak fitness for Wales’ Euro 2020 campaign.

Right-back Williams has found himself in the shadow of England’s Trent Alexander-Arnold at Anfield with little game-time since the turn of the year.

The 20-year-old has played more games for his country than his club in 2021 – five to four – and was so concerned about his pre-Euros fitness that he volunteered for additional training sessions at Liverpool.

“If you haven’t played as much football then you have to look after your body in terms of doing extra at training, coming in on your days off and doing more running,” Williams said.

“That’s exactly what I have been doing. You can’t just rely on your club to try and gain your fitness if you aren’t playing regular football.

“I knew I had a big chance of earning myself a place in the (Wales) squad and if I wanted to get my fitness to the highest level then I needed to do extras.

“I needed to do runs after training or games and that’s what I have been doing. Hopefully my fitness is not too bad.”


England itinery

Monday – England started their tournament preparations in the north east, staying at Rockliffe Hall and putting in work across the road at Middlesbrough’s training ground Rockliffe Park. Southgate oversaw a 1-0 win against fellow Euro 2020 finalists Austria on Wednesday at the Riverside Stadium, where they returned to beat Romania by the same scoreline on Sunday before heading home.

Tuesday – Having been given Monday off, the players and staff will be re-tested for coronavirus before re-entering the bubble as preparations move to St George’s Park. Tuesday will also see England players come face-to-face with the media for the first time in 18 months. As well as the virtual media access that has become common during the pandemic, some journalists will be allowed on site if testing negative upon arrival and agreeing to adhere to strict rules.

Wednesday – The standard routine of training in the morning and media access in the afternoon continues as the tournament opener comes into focus for Southgate and his side.

Thursday – Preparations continue for Sunday’s match at Wembley, where the Three Lions will be desperate to get Group D off to a flying start against World Cup 2018 semi-final foes Croatia.

Friday – While England continue their routine of training and media, the Euros kick off a year later than planned as Italy face Turkey in Rome.

Saturday – After finishing their final pre-Croatia training session, the Three Lions will swap Staffordshire for London on the eve of the match. Their UEFA-designated hotel has been kitted up by the governing body to allow for virtual pre-match press conferences to take place there.

Sunday – England kick-off their attempt to win a first major trophy since 1966 under the arch against Croatia. A socially-distanced crowd of 22,500 will be in attendance.

The FA via Getty Images

Scotland itinery

Monday – Having flown back to the UK from Luxembourg on Sunday night, the players returned home to spend some time with loved ones before the action gets under way.

Tuesday – Team day off. This will be the last full day the squad gets to spend with their families until they return from the tournament.

Wednesday – Clarke’s squad will report to their five-star hotel and training base at Rockliffe Hall near Darlington at 7pm.

Thursday – The Scots will train in front of the media in the morning before holding press conferences after lunch.

Friday – Another morning training session in front of the cameras to be followed by a further round of interviews. John Fleck will be allowed to exit his stint in quarantine, although this could be brought forward if he posts two negative Covid tests sooner.

Saturday – A closed-door training session where Clarke will get the chance to hammer home the finer details of his game plan to down the Czechs. The Scottish Football Association will lay on some social activity later on to keep the players entertained.

Sunday – The Scots will train at Rockliffe before travelling to a Glasgow hotel for their pre-match stay-over. This is where Clarke will give his final big address to the media before Euro 2020 kicks off.


Gould on Page

Bobby Gould launched Robert Page’s Wales journey 25 years ago and fully expects the ‘Quiet Man’ to make a noise at Euro 2020.

Centre-half Page was playing in the third tier of English football at Watford when Gould responded to the disaster of losing 7-1 to Holland in a World Cup qualifier by handing him his Wales debut against Turkey in December 1996.

It said much about Page’s strong character that he lined up in an unfamiliar left-back role following Wales’ Eindhoven embarrassment a month earlier and helped Gould’s side keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw.

Nearly a quarter of a century on and interim boss Page has stepped into the breach again, leading Wales into the delayed European Championship with manager Ryan Giggs on leave from his post.

“When I first called ‘Pagey’ up he did not push himself forward,” recalled Gould, who spent four years as Wales manager between 1995 and 1999 after winning the FA Cup at Wimbledon.

“You expect that from young players and we had a group of big personalities and players in our squad – Neville Southall, Gary Speed, Mark Hughes.

“He looked overawed at first because you could sense all his dreams were coming true. I called him the ‘Quiet Man’ because he did not say a lot at the time, but you could tell he was tough.

“He captained clubs that he played for and that says a lot about his personality. He had an inner belief to succeed.”


No fears over Croatia form

Coach Zlatko Dalic was confident Croatia would make an impact at Euro 2020 despite a lacklustre performance in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Belgium in their final warm-up.

The Croatians have recently looked a pale shadow of the side that finished runners-up at the 2018 World Cup and following a 1-1 home draw with Armenia on Tuesday, they were fortunate not to concede more goals against Belgium.

Dalic was nevertheless adamant that his side would be ready for their opening Group D clash with England at Wembley on Sunday.

“I am sure the English will be very aggressive from the start and we have to keep them at bay,” Dalic told Croatia’s Nova television after Romelu Lukaku gave the Belgians victory with his 60th international goal.

“We played a good match and held our own. We didn’t create enough chances but we’ve made progress as the side looked much more compact than they did in recent games. The performance is encouraging.”


Fleck a doubt

Meanwhile, John Fleck is a “long shot” to make Scotland’s Euro 2020 opener against Czech Republic following his spell of self-isolation.

The Sheffield United midfielder tested positive for Covid-19 and was quarantined before the Scots flew from their training base in Spain to Portugal last week for the 2-2 friendly draw against the Netherlands in Portugal.

David Marshall, Stephen O’Donnell, Nathan Patterson, Grant Hanley, John McGinn and Che Adams had been left behind in Spain as a precaution but all returned and were involved to some extent in the final warm-up game, a 1-0 win over Luxembourg in the Stade Josy Barthel on Sunday.

Boss Clarke confirmed Fleck will come back into consideration when he returns to the squad but is probably not in the mix for the opening game against the Czechs at Hampden Park on June 14, which comes before the trip to Wembley to play England and a final group game against Croatia in Glasgow.


Gilmour allays injury fears

Billy Gilmour has calmed any fears over an injury after the Scotland and Chelsea midfielder was taken off as a precaution in the final warm-up game before Euro 2020.

The midfielder, introduced at half-time but withdrawn after half an hour following a robust challenge from Luxembourg’s Olivier Thil, staked his claim for a start in Scotland’s Euro opener against the Czech Republic on Sunday as he added some creativity to a stodgy win for the Scots against 10 men.

Manager Steve Clarke was confident there was little wrong with Gilmour, while the 19-year-old assured supporters he was “okay”.

Posting on Twitter, Gilmour said: “Good to get some more minutes! Took a knock but feeling okay! On to the Euros”.


England add White

Brighton defender Ben White has been added to England’s Euro 2020 squad.

The 23-year-old was selected by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was forced to withdraw from the 26-man party due to injury.

White made his debut in last week’s 1-0 friendly win over Austria and impressed as he started alongside Tyrone Mings in Sunday’s victory against Romania.

He tweeted: “Beyond proud and honoured! I’ll give it my everything England.”

Alexander-Arnold was ruled out after suffering a thigh injury late on against Austria and Southgate took his time to decide which of his standby players would come in.

Everton defender Ben Godfrey and Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse were other options who both started the Romania game, while Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins were also on the standby list, but will now return home.

The FA via Getty Images

Busquets tests positive for Covid

Spain captain Sergio Busquets has tested positive for coronavirus in a blow to his side’s Euro 2020 preparations.

The Barcelona star started Friday’s friendly against Portugal but is believed to have contracted the virus over the weekend and must now self-isolate.

The rest of the squad all tested negative, but the players and staff who were in close contact with the 32-year-old must also quarantine.

Spain, who open their European Championship campaign against Sweden next Monday, are set to play their final friendly against Lithuania on Tuesday.

The game will still go ahead, but under-21s manager Luis De la Fuente will take charge and use players from his squad.

A statement from Royal Spanish Football Federation read: “The RFEF regrets to announce that its captain Sergio Busquets has given a positive result in the last PCR test that was carried out this morning on the national team in Las Rozas.

“The rest of the members have all tested negative.

“Both the workers and the close contacts of the player will remain isolated for prevention and personalised training routines will be activated, maintaining the isolation, to continue with the preparation for the Euros.

“Regarding the second friendly match against Lithuania, it will be held under the direction of Luis De La Fuente and with members of the under-21 national team.”


Lukaku on target for Belgium in win

Belgium completed their Euro 2020 preparations with a 1-0 win over Croatia.

A Romelu Lukaku goal secured victory for FIFA’s number one ranked team in their final warm-up match before their opening group game against Russia on Saturday.

Lukaku struck his 60th goal for the Red Devils seven minutes before the break and that was enough to see off the 2018 World Cup runners-up, who start their tournament against England at Wembley next Sunday.

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