England manager Gareth Southgate admits it is “not a good sign” after Trent Alexander-Arnold was forced off with what he believed to be a thigh injury in a 1-0 friendly win over Austria.
The Liverpool full-back pulled up unchallenged shortly before the end of the European Championship warm-up in Middlesbrough and looked distraught as he limped off and needed assistance to walk back down the tunnel.
Most of the focus on Southgate’s final 26 man squad on Tuesday was whether Alexander-Arnold would be included after missing out on World Cup qualifiers in March, but in the end, four right-backs were selected.
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With 11 days to go until England’s opening match against Croatia at Wembley, his participation now looks in serious doubt, though Southgate is not ruling him out yet.
“We’re going to have a little look, it’s obviously not good to see him have to come off in the way he did, we’ll just have to assess him over the next 24 hours,” he told ITV.
I think (it’s his) thigh but the medical team are still assessing it. We just have to see, it’s not a good sign to see him have to walk off as he did, we’ll know more in the next 24-48 hours.
Asked whether he will now look to bring an attacking player to replace him, Southgate responded “Let’s see how Trent is first and we’ll go from there. We don’t know the full extent.”
England started the match full of energy and got the goal they deserved in the second half through Bukayo Saka for his first senior international strike, but they faded as a number of substitutions were made - including debuts for Everton’s Ben Godfrey and Brighton defender Ben White, who were both left out of the final squad but could now earn an opportunity if Alexander-Arnold fails to make it.
“We started very well, I thought we used the ball very well in the first hour or so," said Southgate.
"We were playing against a very good team who’ve qualified and have got some very good players, Alaba, Sabitzer, they get between the lines well.
I thought the first hour was good in terms of the quality but I thought after that we needed to make a lot of changes, we needed to preserve people, a couple were getting cramp so we were hanging on at the end, but I think that was understandable given all the changes we had to make.
Jack Grealish was superb in the 70 minutes he played after only recently making his return from a shin injury for Aston Villa, but applied a huge ice pack when he returned to the bench. The midfielder was keen to play down any huge issue.
“It’s not shin splints actually, it’s different to that, it’s a bit of stress on my shin,” he told ITV.
“I’m not concerned, I’m still aware of it a little bit so I wanted to keep on top of it and do whatever I can to heal it after I play in these games - that’s why I had the ice on.”
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