Jack Grealish in line to start for England after Mason Mount forced to isolate

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA</span>
Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Jack Grealish is poised to make his first start of Euro 2020 against the Czech Republic on Tuesday night after Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were forced to isolate because of a conversation in the Wembley tunnel with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour last Friday.

Gareth Southgate’s plans for England’s final match of the group phase were thrown into disarray after Mount and Chilwell were deemed to have been close contacts of Gilmour, who was sent into a 10-day quarantine after returning a positive test for Covid-19 on Monday. The contact between the Chelsea trio took place after Scotland’s goalless draw with Southgate’s side.

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Luke Shaw is in line to start instead of Chilwell at left-back and the most eye-catching name in England’s team is expected to be Grealish. The Aston Villa playmaker could be used in the central area that would otherwise have been occupied by Mount. In a surprising development Bukayo Saka is in contention to start in England’s attack. Southgate has considered bringing in the Arsenal player for Phil Foden.

England need a victory to advance to the knockout stages as group winners. Mount and Chilwell are major doubts to feature in the next round after being told they must isolate up to and including next Monday. The pair have since returned negative Covid tests but the Football Association has decided to take precautionary measures after consultation with Public Health England.

Confirmation that Mount and Chilwell must quarantine presents Southgate with a headache. England, whose progress is assured, will play their last-16 tie in Copenhagen next Monday if they finish second in Group D, when Mount and Chilwell would still be in isolation. If England beat the Czech Republic they will play their last-16 match at Wembley next Tuesday. Although Mount and Chilwell will continue to train individually at the team’s base at St George’s Park, there is no guarantee they will be ready to start immediately after their isolation.

Jack Grealish

If English finish third their next match would be on Sunday or Tuesday. Chilwell is yet to feature during the tournament but Mount has started England’s first two games.

The FA said: “We can confirm that Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount must isolate up to and including next Monday [28 June]. This decision has been taken in consultation with Public Health England.

“The pair were confirmed overnight as close contacts of Scotland’s Billy Gilmour after his positive test following last Friday’s match. Chilwell and Mount will isolate and train individually in private areas at England’s training base St George’s Park, with the rest of the squad returning there after tonight’s fixture against Czech Republic at Wembley.

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“We will continue to follow all Covid-19 protocols and the Uefa testing regime, while remaining in close contact with PHE. The entire England squad and staff had lateral flow tests on Monday and all were again negative, as was the case with Sunday’s Uefa pre-match PCR tests. Further tests will be carried out as and when appropriate.”

It remains unclear who flagged Mount and Chilwell and close contacts of Gilmour, who was due to start in Scotland’s must-win match against Croatia at Hampden Park on Tuesday.