London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate admitted he faces a “complicated” decision over Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell’s return from self-isolation for Tuesday’s Euro 2020 last 16 clash against Germany.
Chelsea duo Mount and Chilwell missed England’s 1-0 group stage win over the Czech Republic last Tuesday after being forced to quarantine for 10 days.
The pair had to isolate after embracing Scotland’s Billy Gilmour following their Chelsea team-mate’s positive coronavirus test after England’s 0-0 draw with their neighbours on June 18.
Unable to train with the England squad and consigned to their rooms for long periods, Southgate hinted Mount and Chilwell may not be ready to feature against Germany at Wembley.
“They are having to travel separately to the team. They have had individual training programmes this week. The only sessions they have been able to join in with us is when there is not full team training,” Southgate told reporters on Monday.
“That is the basis on which we have to make the decision. From midnight tonight they can be fully back with the group.
“Clearly it is really complicated because there is the physical period you would want for a game like this and then there is the tactical training.
“The meetings we’ve had, they have had to be in a separate room and dial in on Zoom.
“The whole experience for them, including travelling down tonight is very, very difficult.
“It’s a decision I’ve got to take when we look at how they have been able to train and everything else. There is a lot wrapped up in that call.”
Southgate has reportedly considered restoring Mount to his midfield after he started the first two games, but Chilwell is less likely to play after seeing Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw selected instead of him so far in the tournament.
Regardless of whether the Chelsea stars are involved, Southgate knows England have a golden opportunity for a historic Euro run.
– ‘Real opportunity’ –
England have never won the tournament, with their best performance a run to the semi-finals that was ended by Germany at Euro 96.
If England beat Joachim Loew’s team on Tuesday, it will be only their second knockout stage win at a European Championship.
“It’s an incredible record that really. It is something we have talked about a lot as a team over the last four years,” Southgate said.
“We have the opportunity. In previous eras we have always talked about the past, teams, their records and baggage.
“There is no reason for these boys to feel that way. Most weren’t born when a lot of those games happened. It is an irrelevance for them so I think we are all looking forward to the game.
“It is a fantastic game to be involved in and a real opportunity for us to progress to a quarter-final.
“It is a big opponent with excellent pedigree and great experience.”
Southgate infamously missed a penalty in England’s shoot-out defeat against Germany 25 years ago.
That loss is just one of a host of painful major tournament exits against the Germans, who have also beaten them at the 1970, 1990 and 2010 World Cups.
While England have a largely wretched record against Germany, their 1966 World Cup final triumph came against Die Mannschaft and they also beat them in the Euro 2000 group stage.
“We don’t have to mention it, but you’ve chosen to so we will go there!” Southgate said of his penalty misery.
“You can make these things as big in your head as you want really. It’s a game of football. These boys have played hundreds of them.
“There is of course great excitement with fans and people tuning into the game. But we have got to trust in the way we prepare and transfer what we do in training into the game. We have to focus on what we can control.”
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