Injury could give Lingard England chance
England kicked off their international summer with a 1-0 friendly win over Austria on Wednesday night, but the dominant topic of conversation after the game in Middlesbrough was the injury suffered by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Liverpool full-back pulled up late on, as he cleared the ball upfield, with what Gareth Southgate suggested was a "thigh injury".
England’s manager said more details would emerge over the next 24 to 48 hours, but it would appear that the 22-year-old’s participation in the upcoming European Championship is in doubt.
While Three Lions supporters will hope the talented right-back can recover to play a part in Group D fixtures with Croatia, Scotland and Czech Republic, several of the players who are on standby for the tournament will be keeping a keen eye on developments.
That includes Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard, who started the clash with the Austrians at the Riverside Stadium, despite being cut from Southgate’s squad a day earlier.
Always proud to represent my country no matter the circumstance! 🏴🦁🦁🦁 pic.twitter.com/S8GQgr1H96— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) June 2, 2021
The 28-year-old fizzed around the pitch during an opening half which England dominated, without being able to find a breakthrough.
He then played a key role in Bukayo Saka’s goal, ushering the ball through to Jack Grealish, who was tackled, allowing the ball to find its way through to the unmarked Arsenal forward.
Lingard played 61 minutes before coming off for Ollie Watkins, but kept himself firmly in his manager’s thoughts and could be at the front of the queue if a replacement is required.
Southgate’s simplest solution would be a fit Alexander-Arnold, but if the Liverpool man can’t make it, there are other options, especially as the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists already have three right-backs in their ranks.
Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse would bolster England’s midfield choices, while Ollie Watkins – who scored 14 goals in his debut top-flight campaign with Aston Villa – could be a wildcard up front.
Centre-backs Ben White and Ben Godfrey may also be considered, especially with Harry Maguire still on the path to recovery from his recent ankle injury.
Like Lingard, all the above players contributed on Teesside and will continue to be involved in the camp, with just over a week to go until Euro 2020 begins.
“The lads that are with us are the standby list and we need to keep them match-ready,” Southgate said on Tuesday.
“Everybody wants to play and that can affect our decision making in these two matches and the training sessions in the lead-up.
“We have got a very good idea of what we want to do, but that's always got to be open to change - and that's the opportunity the players have in the next two games.”
England take on Romania, again at the Riverside, in their second and final pre-tournament friendly on Sunday.