Mason Mount is set to return to England’s starting lineup against Ukraine for Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final, but Bukayo Saka is uncertain after suffering a blow in training on Friday.
Mount was forced into administrative segregation for over a week with Ben Chilwell following close contact with club teammate Billy Gilmour, who later tested positive for Covid-19 following the 0- draw. 0 against Scotland at Wembley.
The pair were released from quarantine at midnight Monday and having trained with the rest of the squad since Wednesday, Mount is set to return to Gareth Southgate’s side in Rome.
However, Saka, who started England’s last two wins against the Czech Republic and Germany, faces a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s game.
“We just have to check out Bukayo, who took a slight hit today (Friday),” England boss Gareth Southgate said.
“Other than that, everyone is available.”
Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane will all be in the starting lineup if Southgate picks their strongest team. Kieran Trippier suffers from a slight hamstring injury which needs to be managed.
Jadon Sancho could start his first game of the tournament if Saka is unfit to play, while Phil Foden could be restored to the right side of the English attack after losing his place in the last group game against the Czech Republic .
Foden and Jack Grealish have yet to play together during the tournament, but Southgate has denied it was due to a conflict of styles.
“Absolutely, they can work together,” he said. “They have played for us together in the past. We just have a wide range of attacking talent.
“I’ve always said that it’s impossible to keep everyone happy, to choose a team that everyone would agree with. But we have to choose the right players for the right times, to feel what will cause the no more problems for the opposition, physically where all the players are, when is the best time for them to have an impact.
“They’ve all been incredibly respectful to their teammates and the fact that we have that strength in the depths.
“Raheem (Sterling) was on fire. His goals made it harder for some others to get in on that left side.”
Southgate wants to come back to four against Ukraine, but a roster decision is more complicated than against Germany as England knew their opponents would play 3-4-3.
Ukraine’s formation, however, is more unpredictable. They played 4-3-3 in their group matches but moved up to 3-5-2 for the knockout win over Sweden.
Southgate said it would be an “insult” for Ukraine to plan beyond Saturday’s quarter-finals by putting all four England players to rest, far from missing a potential date in the last four games.
Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Foden risk being suspended for a possible semi-final against Denmark or the Czech Republic at Wembley if they get a warning at Stadio Olimpico.
Reservations are erased after the quarter-finals and Roma manager Jose Mourinho has said the quartet should be put to rest against Ukraine on Saturday to avoid a suspension for the semi-final.
But Southgate, who left Foden out of the squad for the final group stage game – a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic – to avoid a possible suspension, said he had no intention of to do the same against Ukraine.
“No. I don’t really understand that reasoning,” he replied when asked if the four bookings would affect his team selection.
“I understand that strategically you would like to do that, but I can’t think of a country in the world that would do that for a quarter-final. And especially not a country that has only participated in three semi-finals in its history. .
“I think we need to focus on tomorrow. I think it would be a big mistake for us to think about anything else and I think it would be an insult to Ukraine as well.”
Maguire does not agree with the UEFA rules but insisted it would not prevent him from playing his normal game against the surprise quarter-finalists of Andriy Shevchenko.
“First and foremost, two yellow cards in five games seems a bit stiff for the penalty for missing a semi-final, but these are the rules and this is what we have to face,” a- he declared.
“But for me, I’m just going to go to the game as usual. Listen, you don’t play in the quarterfinals often for your country, we haven’t reached that many times in the past.
“So the opportunity is there to go play and do whatever I can to make it to a semi-final and then we’ll think about it when that happens.
“Right now I’m just fully focused on the quarter-finals and that’s what I’m going to think about, I’m just going to play a normal game.”
Zinchenko: Ukraine needs the “game of its life”
Oleksandr Zinchenko says Ukraine must play the game of a life if they are to achieve a historic victory against England.
Manchester City’s all-rounder Zinchenko is Ukraine’s biggest name and knows his side face an uphill battle against familiar faces at Stadio Olimpico.
“I will say the numbers speak for themselves,” Zinchenko said of England. “The fact that England haven’t conceded a goal yet, they are playing very well in defense.
“But I think there are no perfect teams. Every team has weaknesses.”
Henderson: Anyone who underestimates Ukraine is an illusion
England vice-captain Jordan Henderson said anyone who underestimated Ukraine’s quarter-final opponents was “delusional”.
England dominate the favorites after beating German rivals 2-0 at Wembley in Tuesday’s round of 16, but Henderson isn’t taking anything for granted heading into the quarter-finals.
“It was a fantastic performance but we haven’t achieved anything yet and we still have a long way to go,” said the 31-year-old.
“Full focus on Ukraine. It will be a really tough test and anyone who says it won’t is really illusory.
“I know people say ‘well we beat Germany’ but you can’t underestimate the importance of this game and how good a Ukrainian team is and how difficult it will be against them.
“We are fully prepared and fully aware of this. We just need to go out there and give it our all again and hopefully that will be enough to get us out of this.”