Southgate to give England defensive injury doubts chance in Euros squad

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Luke Shaw;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Luke Shaw</a> has not played for <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Manchester United;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Manchester United</a> since February.</span><span>Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters</span>

Gareth Southgate will give his defensive injury doubts the opportunity to prove their fitness when he names his provisional England squad for Euro 2024 on Tuesday – with Luke Shaw and the left-back position his greatest headache.

The England manager is pleased that Uefa have given the go-ahead to a continuation of 26-man squads for the finals rather than reverting to 23; he offered his backing to the move at a coaches meeting in April largely because of the uncertainty he has over a number of players.

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That starts with Shaw, his first-choice left-back, who has not played for Manchester United since 18 February because of a muscle problem, and takes in Ben Chilwell, too.

The Chelsea left-back, who started for England in the March friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, has since made only two brief substitute appearances for his club. He returned to the match-day squad at Brighton last Wednesday when he was an unused substitute, only to be back out for the visit of Bournemouth on Sunday because of illness.

Southgate has additional concerns over the United centre-half Harry Maguire, who is struggling with a calf problem and rated touch and go for the FA Cup final against Manchester City on Saturday. Another of his central defenders, Marc Guéhi, returned for Crystal Palace two weeks ago after a three-month knee injury layoff. Guéhi made his first start since the problem against Aston Villa on Sunday.

Southgate is considering whether to recall the Bayern Munich centre-half Eric Dier and the Palace attacking midfielder Eberechi Eze in a squad likely to number at least 30. He will trim it for the finals after England’s final warm-up friendly against Iceland at Wembley on 7 June. They also face Bosnia & Herzegovina at St James’ Park on 3 June. Their opening group game at the Euros is against Serbia on 16 June.

Southgate is expected to name Shaw and the others with fitness question marks against them in the provisional squad. He has taken players in the latter stages of injury rehabilitation to the previous two tournaments when 26-man squads have been permitted: Maguire and Jordan Henderson to Euro 2020; Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips to the 2022 World Cup. All contributed after missing the opening two matches.

The worry with Shaw, who is unlikely to be available for the FA Cup final, is the amount of football he has had during an injury-hit season – 15 United games and none for England – and whether he can regain peak sharpness. Southgate’s other main option at left-back is Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier, although he is more comfortable on the right. Trippier appears to be ahead of Chilwell in the pecking order at left-back.

Dier has been outstanding since his January move from Tottenham to Bayern, especially in the Champions League, and Southgate, who has given him 37 of his 49 caps, is a big fan of his attitude and professionalism. Southgate last played Dier during the 2022 World Cup. Eze, meanwhile, has starred for Palace and Southgate’s assistant, Steve Holland, was at the Villa game on Sunday in which he scored two.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is fancied to fill the midfield role alongside Declan Rice – ahead of Henderson and with Phillips having faded from the picture. Anthony Gordon is another fitness doubt; the Newcastle winger missed his club’s game at Brentford on Sunday with an achilles issue and did not travel to Melbourne for Wednesday’s end-of-season friendly against Spurs.

Southgate is considering whether to include Burnley’s James Trafford as his third-choice goalkeeper ahead of the fit-again Nick Pope and with Sam Johnstone injured. Jordan Pickford is the No 1, with Aaron Ramsdale his deputy.

Southgate’s United and City players will join up one or two days before the Bosnia game, and Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, who will contest the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on 1 June, will report just before the Iceland match.