England boss Gareth Southgate will have to contend without both Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell after they were ruled out of tonight’s final European Championships group game against Czech Republic because a tunnel rendezvous with Scotland’s Covid-positive Billy Gilmour forced them into self-isolation.
Southgate, when quizzed on the decision to place both Chelsea players into isolation on Monday, was unsure if they would be ineligible to play against Czech Republic at Wembley.
Confirmation arrived this morning that neither are eligible for selection until Monday, June 28 because of their close contact with Gilmour, who Scotland confirmed to have tested positive for Covid just days on from his man-of-the-match display at Wembley against England.
A statement from England read: ‘We can confirm that Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount must isolate up to and including next Monday [28 June]. This decision has been taken in consultation with Public Health England.
‘The pair were confirmed overnight as close contacts of Scotland’s Billy Gilmour after his positive COVID-19 test following last Friday’s match.
‘Chilwell and Mount will isolate and train individually in private areas at England’s training base St. George’s Park, with the rest of the squad returning there after tonight’s fixture against Czech Republic at Wembley.
‘We will continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols and the UEFA testing regime, while remaining in close contact with PHE.
‘The entire England squad and staff had lateral flow tests on Monday and all were again negative, as was the case with Sunday’s UEFA pre-match PCR tests. Further tests will be carried out as and when appropriate.’
The Scotland midfielder’s Chelsea colleagues Mount, who played the entire 90 minutes, and Chilwell, who was an unused substitute, were photographed standing next to – and embracing – the Scot after the game.
Southgate added that his two players also met up with Gilmour in the tunnel area after the game – and that has since been deemed a breach Covid protocols which has cost them any involvement in the final match of Group D, as well as any involvement in group training through until the last-16 of the tournament.
England stars Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell must self-isolate after being recorded with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour on Friday
Mount embraced Chelsea colleague Gilmour – who has now tested positive for Covid-19 – after the 0-0 draw at Wembley
Mount and Chilwell were among the full England squad to return to training on Monday but both are now unavailable to play
England manager Gareth Southgate’s plans for Euro 2020 have been rocked by the news that two players must self-isolate
FA STATEMENT ON MONDAY EVENING
As a precaution at this time and in consultation with Public Health England [PHE], Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount are isolating after interaction with Scotland player Billy Gilmour at Friday’s match.
The pair will be kept away from the rest of the England players and wider support team, pending further discussions with PHE.
The entire squad had lateral flow tests on Monday afternoon and all were again negative, as was the case with Sunday’s UEFA pre-match PCR tests.
We will continue to follow all Covid-19 protocols and the UEFA testing regime, while remaining in close contact with PHE.
England staff were locked in talks with Public Health England overnight to ascertain when the duo could rejoin the squad. It has been concluded that both can have no involvement until June 28 at the earliest.
Mount and Chilwell will be isolated and will be required to train individually at St George’s Park.
England players underwent extra lateral flow testing on Monday, with all of them returning negative tests.
Nevertheless, the news arrived as a major headache to Southgate, although his side’s passage into the last-16 was booked after Ukraine and Finland both finished third in their groups with three points.
‘I don’t want to cause a drama for Scotland but if you’re all in the dressing room together where does everything stand?,’ said Southgate, appearing to question the Covid guidelines.
‘I don’t know is the honest answer to that. Our medical people are dealing with all of this,’ said the England boss.
‘I was on the training pitch when I found out, so we’d just literally finished training.
‘In terms of the team, we’ll need to go through details with the players in the morning really, so we’ll have to know by first thing in the morning of their availability and if not we’ll just have to play on without them.’
Even with enforced absences for Mount and Chilwell, Southgate is not likely to make wholesale changes from the team that started against the Scots.
The England boss was set to choose the same midfield three as he did against Croatia and Scotland, but Jude Bellingham could get his first start of the tournament in place of Mount.
Harry Maguire is pushing for his first appearance since damaging ankle ligaments on May 9. Southgate is planning on giving the Manchester United captain some minutes – but has been contemplating giving his first choice centre back a start.
Gilmour (right) was named man-of-the-match after the draw at Wembley and his absence is a huge blow for Scotland
ENGLAND’S PROBABLE STARTING XI
(4-3-3): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Phillips, Rice, Bellingham; Foden, Kane, Sterling.
Kyle Walker is set to replace Reece James at right back; while Luke Shaw is hopeful of keeping his place, now that Chilwell, who was in contention to feature, isn’t available.
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the FA said: ‘As a precaution at this time and in consultation with Public Health England [PHE], Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount are isolating after interaction with Scotland player Billy Gilmour at Friday’s match.
‘The pair will be kept away from the rest of the England players and wider support team, pending further discussions with PHE.
Chilwell is yet to feature at Euro 2020 but his absence is still a blow to Southgate’s defensive options
‘The entire squad had lateral flow tests on Monday afternoon and all were again negative, as was the case with Sunday’s UEFA pre-match PCR tests.
‘We will continue to follow all Covid-19 protocols and the UEFA testing regime, while remaining in close contact with PHE.’
The news does come after all 26 players of Southgate’s England squad trained together on Monday after each returned negative Covid-19 tests.
Similarly, the 25 remaining players in the Scotland squad were not deemed close contacts with Gilmour and therefore also all trained together on Monday, after returning negative lateral-flow tests.
Scotland captain Andy Robertson, earlier on Monday, deleted a video of himself playing ping-pong with Gilmour and John McGinn.
Soon after news broke of Gilmour’s positive test on Monday morning, a clip surfaced from the team hotel where the young midfielder is seen enjoying some ping-pong.
Taken on Robertson’s Instagram story, the video shows Gilmour, along with McGinn, unwinding with a game in the team hotel.
The video has since been removed from the Liverpool full-back’s Instagram account, with man-of-the-match from Friday night Gilmour definitely out of the Scots’ do-or-die encounter against Croatia at Hampden Park.
Gilmour’s mother Carrie was in attendance at Wembley to celebrate his performance against England last Friday
Gilmour’s positive test is the second to hit the Scotland camp since the squad met up earlier this month.
Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck sat out both of the Scots’ warm-up fixtures against Holland and Luxembourg after contracting the virus.
Meanwhile, fans took to Twitter to react to the news that England’s players would not receive extra testing despite being on the same pitch as Gilmour on Friday night.
Twitter user Stuart Graham said: ‘So I’m really confused, if a pupil in my daughters class ‘bubble’ tests positive for Covid then the whole class will isolate, yet Billy Gilmour tests positive yet Scottish team don’t have to self-isolate.’
Another tweeted: ‘I’m honestly baffled with this Covid-19 nonsense, how can they say no one is considered as a close contact to Billy Gilmour when all the players shared the same dressing room etc – totally f***ed up.’
And a third added: ‘So Billy Gilmour has to isolate but the entire team, whom he has been in very close contact with, don’t. Yeah, right, that makes perfect sense. If a kid in class tests positive the whole class are sent home. Get an effin grip. It’s all utter nonsense.’
All Euro 2020 teams are living in a bubble and avoiding all contact with the public for the duration of their involvement in the tournament. Players are having regular PCR tests – with everyone getting tested 48 hours before every match as per UEFA regulations – and their temperatures are taken when they arrive at stadiums.
Any player, coach or official who returns a positive result is immediately removed from the group and quarantined, followed by universal testing of the entire squad and any known contacts.
Opposition players are not deemed close contacts unless they spend an extended period of time with the positive player – which Chilwell and Mount were with Gilmour on Friday night.
Guidance from England’s FA states match play is not considered ‘close contact’ so no action is needed unless individuals experience symptoms, in which case they must self-isolate from that point as per Government guidance.