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England hit by FIVE injury worries ahead of Serbia clash as Gareth Southgate sweats on Euro 2024 stars’ fitness

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GARETH SOUTHGATE is reportedly sweating over the fitness of FIVE England stars ahead of his side’s Euro opener against Serbia.

The Three Lions kick off their adventure at the tournament on Sunday, just nine days after a dismal 1-0 friendly defeat to Iceland at Wembley.

Jude Bellingham is one of five fitness doubts for England's Euro opener against Serbia

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Jude Bellingham is one of five fitness doubts for England’s Euro opener against SerbiaCredit: Getty
Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden could also miss the crunch game on Sunday

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Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden could also miss the crunch game on SundayCredit: Getty

Southgate stunned fans by picking a relatively inexperienced and young Euros squad while leaving out big names like Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Harry Maguire.

And he could be forced to field newbies like Anthony Gordon, Cole Palmer and Eberechi Eze sooner than expected amid questions over the fitness of five England regulars.

The Telegraph claims Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, John Stones and Luke Shaw will all need to be checked ahead of the Serbia match.

The quintet are key players in Southgate’s starting XI when fit.

And their absences would be a huge blow as England look to start the Euros with a bang.

Bellingham missed the friendlies against Iceland and Bosnia & Herzegovina after leading Real Madrid to Champions League glory at the start of the month.

While Foden was a shadow of his former self at Wembley on Friday despite playing the whole 90 minutes.

Saka managed just half an hour from the bench after missing the last month with injury.

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What Southgate said about axed England stars

WHAT Gareth Southgate said about his axed England stars after confirming his 26-man England squad for Euro 2024.

Harry Maguire

“The decision on Harry [Maguire] is totally about his physical condition and his recovery from the injury. There is no other reason as he is one of our strongest centre-backs.

“Harry has made some progress, but it’s been complicated and we wouldn’t have had him in the group stages. There were too many hurdles to get through without being clear where we might get to.

“Knowing we haven’t got a clean bill of health across the rest of the backline, we need players who are fit and ready to go from the start.

“It was a really difficult call, you know how I feel about Harry, what he’s done for England and for me as a manager. “

Jack Grealish

“I have just delivered a really difficult conversation to a lad who is devastated.

“I think the world of him as a kid.“It certainly doesn’t get any easier.

“You put yourself in the shoes of a player, a parent. You understand that for these players this is a devastating moment.

“We knew we had a couple of really difficult days coming up.”

James Maddison

“Madders [Maddison] and Jack [Grealish] would have provided us with something different as well and they’ve been tough calls.

“They’re calls we’ve gone over and over and over as a group of staff to try to be fair and to try to use the right rationale.

“We back our decisions but we recognise we could have gone a different route. The boys are big characters, fabulous team-mates and great boys to work with.

“It’s sad to have to deliver that news to them.”

Jarrad Branthwaite

“It’s a bit early for Jarrad [Branthwaite]. He has had a fabulous season, it was good to get him on the pitch the other night.

“But of course, in an ideal world, you’d like that balance of left-footers. For him to be in ahead of the others, I don’t think it would have been the right call at this stage.”

Jarell Quansah

“Jarell Quansah has stayed with us. He’s not had the experience of an England international at Wembley. It’ll be great for him to be us for the game.

“Hopefully we’re not needing to call anyone else in.”

John Stones is a doubt after injuring his ankle against Iceland

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John Stones is a doubt after injuring his ankle against IcelandCredit: Getty
Kieran Tripper will start in place of Luke Shaw against Serbia

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Kieran Tripper will start in place of Luke Shaw against SerbiaCredit: Getty

And Stones was hauled off at half-time after picking up a knock to his ankle.

As for Shaw, he was absent altogether after featuring just 15 times for Man United this season and looks certain to miss out against Serbia.

It means Kieran Tripper will start at left-back on Sunday.

And should the other four stars also be sidelined, it will leave Southgate with a selection dilemma.

Lewis Dunk, Ezri Konsa and Joe Gomez will battle for a place alongside Marc Guehi at centre-back.

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While Chelsea star Palmer is the obvious candidate to replace Bellingham as Southgate’s 10.

Anthony Gordon and Eberechi Eze have both looked sharp on the left in recent games.

And Jarrad Bowen could be a shoe-in for Saka on the right.

However, Trent Alexander-Arnold is expected to get the nod in midfield alongside Declan Rice.

That’s despite the presence of Conor Gallagher, as well as impressive youngsters Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton.

And it also shows the U-turn Alexander-Arnold has performed under Southgate, having previously been a fringe player for England.

A source told the Telegraph: “A lot can change, obviously, but Trent was given the No8 shirt for a reason.”

Gareth Southgate will take the handbrake off at Euro 2024… because he has no choice

By Charlie Wyett

GARETH SOUTHGATE will have no choice but to take the handbrake off his England team at Euro 2024.

The defensive crisis gripping the Three Lions means the only option in Germany, within ­reason, will be outright attack.

Southgate has often been lambasted for his safety-first approach — even if he points out you must go back to Walter Winterbottom’s sides in the 1950s to find an England manager with a better scoring record.

But with the crocked Harry Maguire left out, Luke Shaw not fit enough to start the tournament and John Stones having made just 12 ­Premier League starts this season, this is not a defence you would stake your life on.

The last time England went to a major tournament in Germany — the 2006 World Cup — the four centre-backs selected were Sol Campbell (68 caps), Rio Ferdinand (47), Jamie Carragher (25) and John Terry (24).

This time, when England fly out on Monday, the quartet will be Lewis Dunk (six), Joe Gomez (14), Marc Guehi (ten) and Ezri Konsa (three).

It makes Southgate’s decision not to recall the 49-cap Eric Dier for his ­provisional squad even stranger — especially considering his strong end to the season with Bayern Munich.

The elder statesman in his defence — and the one who absolutely has to stay fit — is 71-cap Stones.



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England hit by FIVE injury worries ahead of Serbia clash as Gareth Southgate sweats on Euro 2024 stars’ fitness

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