Gareth Southgate insists he is ‘not frustrated’ despite the potentially ‘massive blow’ of losing Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount to coronavirus protocols with both players set for a period of self-isolation.
Mount and Chilwell are currently isolating away from the rest of the England squad after coming into ‘close contact’ with Chelsea teammate and Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for Covid-19 following the clash between the two teams on Friday evening.
Both players are unlikely to feature in England’s final group game against the Czech Republic this evening and could potentially miss 10 days of the competition, something Southgate is understandably hopeful can be avoided.
“My biggest hope is for the two boys – that they’re not going to miss 10 days of a European Championship,” Southgate said.
“That would be a massive blow for us, but for them as well. We just have to see how it plays out.
“We’re not being overzealous in that we’ve got to follow the guidelines. If there is any risk with these two players, then we’ve got to make sure we don’t put any other players at risk.
The Mirror have reported that Chilwell and Mount chatted with Gilmour for 25 minutes following the goalless draw at Wembley, with anything more than 15 minutes being deemed as ‘close contact’.
Southgate insists he is not ‘angry’ or ‘frustrated’ with their subsequent period of self-isolation, insisting the Three Lions will ‘crack on’ ahead of their clash with the Czechs with England needing to win to top the group.
“I’m not angry or p*ssed off really and certainly not with the players. Not with anybody,” he said. “It’s just the fact of the world we’re living in at the moment.
“Of course it’s not ideal but we’ve always known this could happen and every team has been sort of living with this fear and some have already had to deal with it.
“We’re the latest to have to have that disruption and we’ve just got to get on and deal with it.
“I’m not frustrated. When you’re a manager you can have a training session and you lose a player to injury the day before a game and you have to adapt. Who plays? Somebody else. We crack on.
“The protocols – it would be something to do with chatting after the game but I have no idea of all the detail. That’s why we’ve taken the decision at this point to isolate them. That’s why we’re having to have the discussions with Public Health England, as I understand it.
“I think you can see evidence at every match of interactions [between players],” he added. “I think these sorts of things do serve as a reminder that we are under a different sort of spotlight to most parts of the community and at higher risk of being forced to miss matches or whatever else.
“I think the players, after what’s happened today, I don’t think they will need us to tell them but for sure we will.”
Southgate did however question how no other Scotland players have been forced to self-isolate despite sharing a dressing room with Gilmour, with the protocols coming as a result of time spent in close proximity to the 20-year-old away from the pitch.
“I don’t want to cause a drama for Scotland, but if you’re all in the dressing together room. Where do you stand?
“I don’t know all of the factors behind that but it clearly it’s nothing to do with being on the pitch.”