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Mason Mount: England midfielder expected to start in Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine

Mason Mount is expected to return to England’s starting line-up against Ukraine for Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final, but Bukayo Saka is an injury doubt after suffering a knock in training on Friday.

Mount was forced into precautionary isolation for over a week along with Ben Chilwell following close contact with club team-mate Billy Gilmour, who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 following the goalless Group D draw with Scotland at Wembley.

The pair were free from quarantine at midnight on Monday and having trained with the rest of the squad since Wednesday, Mount is in line to return to Gareth Southgate’s side in Rome.

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Bukayo Saka suffered a knock in training on Friday

However, Saka, who started England’s last two victories against the Czech Republic and Germany, faces a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s game.

“We’ve just got to check on Bukayo, who had a slight knock today (Friday),” said England boss Gareth Southgate.

“Other than that everybody is available.”

Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane will all be in the starting line-up if Southgate picks his strongest team. Kieran Trippier has been troubled by a slight hamstring injury which needs to be managed.

Jadon Sancho could start his first game of the tournament if Saka is not fit to play, while Phil Foden could be restored to the right side of England’s attack after losing his place for the final group game against the Czech Republic.



Jack Grealish with Manchester City forward Phil Foden during England training




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Gareth Southgate says playing Phil Foden and Jack Grealish could be an option against Ukraine

Foden and Jack Grealish have yet to feature together during the tournament but Southgate denied that was due to a clash of styles.

“Absolutely they can work together,” he said. “They’ve played for us in the past together. We’ve just got such a strong array of attacking talent.

“I’ve said all along it’s impossible to keep everyone happy, to pick a team everybody will agree with. But we’ve got to pick the right players for the right moments, to sense what will cause the opposition the most problems, physically where all the players are at, when is the best time for them to have an impact.



England's Jack Grealish stands by the pitch as Germany's manager Joachim Loew is seen at left, during the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between England and Germany, at Wembley stadium in London, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Andy Rain, Pool via AP)




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Grealish has to start for an attack-minded England against Ukraine, says Stephen Warnock

“They’ve all been unbelievably respectful of their team-mates and the fact we have got this strength in depth.

“Raheem (Sterling) has been on fire. His goals have made it more difficult for some others to get in on that left side.”

Southgate wants to revert to playing with a back four against Ukraine but a decision regarding formation is more complicated than it was against Germany as England knew their opponents would be playing 3-4-3.

Ukraine’s formation, however, is more unpredictable. They played 4-3-3 in their group games but switched to 3-5-2 for the knockout win against Sweden.



PA - Gareth Southgate




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Southgate says he has not considered resting players who are on a yellow card and believes England owe it to Ukraine to play their strongest side

Southgate said it would be an “insult” to Ukraine to plan beyond Saturday’s quarter-final by resting the four England players who are a booking away from missing a potential last-four date.

Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Foden risk being suspended for a possible semi-final against Denmark or the Czech Republic at Wembley if they pick up a caution at Stadio Olimpico.

Bookings are wiped after the quarter-final stage and Roma manager Jose Mourinho said the quartet should be rested against Ukraine on Saturday to avoid any suspension for the semi-final.

But Southgate, who left Foden out of the squad for the final group stage game – a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic – to avoid a potential ban, said he had no intention of following suit against Ukraine.

Phil Foden tries to control the ball under pressure from Grant Hanley during England vs Scotland
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Foden has not featured since he was replaced during the goalless draw against Scotland

“No. I don’t really understand that rationale,” he replied when asked if the four bookings would affect his team selection.

“I understand that strategically you might like to do that but I can’t think of a country in the world that would do that for a quarter-final. And especially not a country that has only been to three semi-finals in its history.

“I think we’ve got to focus on tomorrow. I think it would be a big error for us to be thinking about anything else and I think it would be an insult to Ukraine as well.”

Harry Maguire
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Harry Maguire is one booking away from suspension but says it won’t prevent him from playing his normal game

Maguire does not agree with the UEFA regulations but insisted it would not prevent him from playing his normal game against Andriy Shevchenko’s surprise quarter-finalists.

“First and foremost, two yellow cards in five games seems a bit steep for the punishment of missing a semi-final but that is the rules and that’s what we have to deal with,” he said.

“But for me, I’ll just be going to the game as normal. Listen, you don’t play in a quarter-final for your country often, we haven’t reached that many times in the past.

“So the opportunity is there to go and perform and do everything I can to reach a semi-final and then we’ll think about that when it comes.

“At the moment I am just fully focused on the quarter-final and that’s what I’ll be thinking about, I’ll just be playing a normal game.”



AP - Harry Maguire claps the England fans




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Maguire says he is happy to play in a back three or back four and says modern football demands that teams are fluid in how they set up

Zinchenko: Ukraine require ‘game of their lives’

Oleksandr Zinchenko says Ukraine need to play the game of their lives if they are to secure a historic win against England.

Versatile Manchester City player Zinchenko is the biggest name in the Ukrainian side and knows his team face an uphill battle against some familiar faces at the Stadio Olimpico.

“I will say that numbers speak for themselves,” Zinchenko said of England. “The fact that England hasn’t conceded any goals yet, they play very well in defence.

“But I think that there are no perfect teams. Every team has weaknesses.”



PA - Oleksandr Zinchenko in Ukraine training




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Oleksandr Zinchenko has praised Manchester City team-mates Kyle Walker and John Stones, and says Ukraine will need to play ‘the best game of their lives’ to beat England

Henderson: Anyone underestimating Ukraine is delusional

England vice-captain Jordan Henderson says anyone underestimating quarter-final opponents Ukraine is “delusional”.

England are overriding favourites having beaten rivals Germany 2-0 at Wembley in Tuesday’s last-16 encounter, but Henderson is not taking anything for granted heading into the quarter-final.



Gareth Southgate takes England training at St George's Park of England's quarter-final at Euro 2020




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Ex-England striker Emile Heskey analyses the balance Southgate needs to find between retaining defensive solidity and threat in attack for the Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine

“It was a fantastic performance but we haven’t achieved anything yet and we’ve still got a long way to go,” the 31-year-old said.

“Full focus on Ukraine. It’ll be a really difficult test and anybody that says that it won’t be are delusional, really.

“I know people say ‘well, we beat Germany’ but you can’t underestimate the importance of this game and how hard good of a team Ukraine are and how hard it will be against them.

“We’re fully prepared and fully aware of that. We just need to go out there and give absolutely everything again and hopefully that’s enough to get us through.”


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