England squad: Gareth Southgate on Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson call-ups and right-back situation

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·3-min read
England squad: Gareth Southgate on Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson call-ups and right-back situation
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 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate has revealed that Harry Maguire remains a doubt for England's opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia on June 13, despite being named in the final squad on Tuesday.

Maguire missed the end of the season for Manchester United with ankle ligament damage and is yet to join up with Southgate's squad.

The centre-half was nonetheless named in the England manager's final 26-man group, along with four right-backs in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Reece James and Kyle Walker.

Two centre-backs - Ben Godrey and Ben White of Everton and Brighton, respectively - were dropped from the initial 33-man preliminary squad and will remain on standby until before the Croatia game but Southgate can only withdraw players who suffer new injuries, so Maguire cannot be replaced for his ankle problem.

Asked if the United captain would be fit to face Croatia at Wembley on Sunday week, Southgate said: "We don't know that yet.

"It's going to be tight for the first game, there's no question. I think he's such a good player and we had the additional size of squad, the fact that that leadership which is growing in him all the time, we wanted to take that opportunity to bring him into the squad.

"We know exactly where he's at. Our medical team have been over with him in Manchester. He's not travelled to us yet with quarantine issues coming from [the Europa League Final in] Poland. That was a bit more complicated."

 (Manchester United via Getty Images)
(Manchester United via Getty Images)

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was also named in the squad despite having not played for over three months due to a groin injury which required surgery.

Henderson has trained this week and is set to be involved in Wednesday's opening warm-up match against Austria at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

"They both have a bit to do to be available but we feel the possibility they can play a part and the fact they are such fantastic characters to have around the group," Southgate said.

"Hendo, his leadership and presence is already having an affect on people, especially the younger ones in the group but all the others as well. Given we were able to pick 26, we felt the opportunity to have those two with us was a straightforward one really.

"Jordan has trained with the team all week, so that's been good. We've had to modify him through certain parts of the session. He'll be involved in the game tomorrow. So his progress is good, but we're realistic about what that might look like."

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The absence of Maguire against Croatia could prompt Southgate to revert to a back three and he defended his decision to name all four right-backs, pointing to the versatility of Walker and James, who can both play as third centre-halves.

"Yes, we have four players who sometimes play at right-back for their clubs," Southgate said. "Kieran's been playing at wing-back as well as right-back.

"Reece James has played the right of a three or right wing-back. Trent plays at right-back. And Kyle Walker for us at centre-half as a three and at left-back during a match for us against Denmark.

“Reece James was in midfield against Aston Villa. Basically they are in our best 26 footballers and that's why they are in the squad. If I could have picked a fifth or sixth right-back I would have done!”

He added: "We're here to play nine games. We know we already have some injury doubts in the group. I'm sure we're going to face other difficulties over the next five weeks.

“So we need adaptability, good players, good professionals, tactically savvy players. We're fortunate to have old and young players who fit those categories."

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