Gareth Southgate is almost certain to ignore Harry Maguire for Sunday’s Euro 2020 clash against Croatia despite the defender’s return to full training.
The Manchester United skipper is resigned to missing the opening game and next Friday’s clash against Scotland.
Maguire is targeting a return, most likely as a substitute, in the final group game against the Czech Republic in 11 days’ time.
The central defender — who has not played since May 9 — took a significant step in his recovery from an ankle ligament injury by training yesterday. But barring an unexpected twist, he is not in contention to face Croatia and there are concerns about throwing him back into a potentially bruising match against Scotland.
England players have been left in the dark about how Southgate plans to set up his team against Croatia.
Sportsmail revealed last week that England would experiment in training with a back three, and, as we reported yesterday, full back Luke Shaw has been looked at in a three-man central defence.
However, Southgate is understood to have switched between playing three at the back and a conventional four-man defence at St George’s Park over the past 48 hours. But with just two training sessions before the clash against Croatia, Southgate’s plans are likely to become much clearer today.
Bukayo Saka is unlikely to start on Sunday, despite scoring his first England goal in the win over Austria, but the Arsenal attacker insists he is ready to make a starting role his own if he gets the chance.
Saka said: ‘For the manager, it is going to be difficult to pick the starting XI with the amount of quality we have in this team.
‘I don’t know what holds for the starting team in the first, second and third game. All I know is that if I get my opportunity I’ll take it and give a positive performance.’