Tuesday 20 February 2018

Smalling injury upsets English plan

Chris Smalling (pictured) has been replaced by Ben Gibson. Photo: Reuters
Chris Smalling (pictured) has been replaced by Ben Gibson. Photo: Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Gareth Southgate has been forced to reconsider his three-at-the-back England experiment after Chris Smalling withdrew from the squad for tomorrow's match against Lithuania with a knee injury.

Smalling has been replaced by Ben Gibson, but the Middlesbrough defender had still not joined up with the England squad yesterday afternoon, making it highly unlikely he will be drafted straight into the team.

That means Southgate is likely to revert to a back four, with John Stones coming in to partner Michael Keane, who won his first cap against Germany, in the centre of defence.

It also opens up the possibility of Raheem Sterling, who was rested in Dortmund, to come back into the side, while Jesse Lingard is also under consideration.

England v Lithuania, Live, 5.00pm tomorrow, TV3 & ITV

Irish Independent

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