Gary Lineker has pointed out a problem with Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell having to self-isolate ahead of England’s final group game of Euro 2020 tomorrow evening.
The Three Lions will face the Czech Republic at Wembley in less than 24 hours’ time but Gareth Southgate could be without two key men as his side look to get back to winning ways.
Friday’s disappointing 0-0 draw with Scotland dampened the national mood around England after the 1-0 victory over Croatia on matchday one, and there were plenty of repercussions off the pitch as an inquest into the underwhelming result and performance erupted.
However, this Monday’s news that man of the match Billy Gilmour had tested positive for COVID-19 wasn’t something Southgate and co. expected.
Gilmour shared an embrace with Chelsea team-mates Mount and Chilwell post-match but, despite the Three Lions pair testing negative both Sunday and on Monday, the Blues duo are currently in self-isolation away from the rest of the squad at St George’s Park.
Lineker took to Twitter to voice his perplexion, writing: “This is odd.
“They may have had close contact with Billy Gilmour, but if they continue to test negative surely they can play.
“Otherwise surely every single Scottish player, who all hugged Gilmour after the game, won’t be allowed to play either,” the 80-capped former striker added.
“Makes no sense.”
In his pre-match press conference this evening, Southgate shared his ex-international team-mate’s bemusement, saying: “I don’t want to cause a drama for Scotland, but if you’re all in the dressing together. Where do you stand?
“I don’t know all of the factors behind that but it clearly it’s nothing to do with being on the pitch.”
The England manager continued to probe at the ‘close contact’ issue by comparing the situation to when a player tested positive while on club duty but their team-mates didn’t have to isolate.
“So that’s why there is no issue behind teams training going back to when Premier League restarted, training was shown to be a situation where there weren’t contacts for long enough for it to be a risk,” he explained.
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“We’re just waiting to hear for more information at this moment in time.”
A statement from the FA read: “As a precaution at this time and in consultation with Public Health England [PHE], Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount are isolating after interaction with Scotland player Billy Gilmour at Friday’s match.
“The pair will be kept away from the rest of the England players and wider support team, pending further discussions with PHE.
“The entire squad had lateral flow tests on Monday afternoon and all were again negative, as was the case with Sunday’s UEFA pre-match PCR tests.
“We will continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols and the UEFA testing regime while remaining in close contact with PHE.”
While left-back Chilwell is yet to feature during the tournament, Mount has played every minute.
The midfielder’s absence could see those clamouring for Jack Grealish to be handed a start inadvertently get their wish.
Victory over the Czech Republic would see the Three Lions through as Group D winners, facing the runners-up of the ‘Group of Death’ in the round-of-16.
A draw or defeat could see Southgate’s side stay in second, where they’d play the second-placed team in Group E.
If England shockingly lose and Scotland beat Croatia by enough goals to swing the goal difference, the Three Lions could end up in third and be drawn against a currently unknown opponent.