Former Dutch international Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink believes England manager Gareth Southgate faces a ‘big, big call’ on Covid-exile Mason Mount ahead of England’s showdown with Germany.
Southgate is a big believer in Mount, starting him in England’s first two matches in Group D, but the midfield dynamo has been forced to train in isolation with Ben Chilwell, after the pair were deemed to be in close contact with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for Covid.
And Hasselbaink, who starred for Leeds United and Chelsea as a player, fears that 10 days away from the group, with only non-contact training, is just too long ahead of the last 16-tie with the Germans at Wembley on Tuesday.
England players Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell trained in private, away from team-mates, on Thursday morning (pictured: the two stars during a session on Monday)
The FA have asked for permission from Public Health England to allow Mount and Chilwell to take part in socially-distanced training this week
‘If Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell are going to be part of that, you would want them to train two days in advance with the team at least. Saturday is the cut-off day,’ the former striker, who is now manager at Burton Albion, told Sportsmail.
Public Health England initially told the governing body that Mount and Chilwell would have to train on their own at St George’s Park, England’s base, until Monday – but boss Southgate has since asked for clarification.
The FA has appealed to PHE asking them to allow Mount and Chilwell to engage in small group sessions, similar to those used in the Premier League during Project Restart when players trained in five-man bubbles.
Former Dutch international and Burton Albion coach fears that the isolation period for Mount and Chilwell will make it hard for them to be match-ready for the encounter with Germany
With this precedent in mind, Southgate would like both players to be permitted to take part in meaningful exercises.
However, yesterday the pair were training away from the group and dining separately and there is still no sign their isolation period will end before Monday evening, on the eve of the game.
‘I do not think [Southgate] will start Mount,’ said Hasselbaink, who starred for Chelsea, Leeds United in a playing career that spanned 468 league appearances and 195 goals. ‘It is such a big gap and then being chucked. It is a big, big call.’
‘Tactically, it is not a problem. Knowing Gareth, he will have looked at every potential opponent – what they have got and what systems they are playing – and now they will be looking in depth.
Mount and Chilwell came into close contact with Covid-positive Scotland star Billy Gilmour (C)
‘The players can get a lot from video and keeping a distance and talking it through. The problem is the sharpness.’
Small group sessions would help, said Hasselbaink, who played for Holland 23 times, but without contact the impact would still be limited.
‘You want them to be part of the 11 v 11 stuff. You want to bring them in and find their rhythm with the team.’
However, Hasselbaink still thinks Mount could have an impact off the bench.
Hasselbaink made 23 appearances for the Netherlands and he made 136 league appearances for Chelsea scoring 69 goals
‘I think he will be on the bench, but come on once the game has slowed down a bit.’
Coaches don’t believe fitness will be a problem with a long layoff.
‘I don’t think it will be a big challenge for the players’ fitness,’ Chris Short, a senior member of the sports science team at Middlesbrough, told Sportsmail yesterday.
‘They are young lads and there are periods in the domestic season where players have a two-week break. It is not a problem.’ added Short, who was head of sports science at Oxford United until the end of last season.
‘The biggest challenge for the players will not be physically, the issue will be not being in a training environment.
‘You have situations when you play even in small-sided games where you have to make decisions. It will be more about decision making and sharpness,’ Short, who played for Sheffield United and Stoke City, before a coaching career that has also included Leeds United, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Sheffield United, added