Gareth Southgate has been kept totally in the dark about Harry Maguire’s injury situation by Manchester United ahead of the Europa League final.
The England manager admits he will only find out tonight the current extent of the Manchester United captain’s injury and has heard nothing since an initial report when he damaged his ankle ligaments against Aston Villa on May 9.
Remarkably, Southgate is willing to accept the situation even though it suggests that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has doubts about sharing sensitive information with the England manager.
“At this moment in time, Harry might play tomorrow or night or he might be out for two months I just don’t know,” Southgate said.
“We had an initial assessment on Maguire, which was positive in terms of the tournament, but there was always a little bit more swelling and further investigation needed.
“Of course when you’ve got a European final and information for the opposition is so tight and things do leak, I understand why clubs want to keep their cards close to their chest.
“It’s made it a little bit more difficult for us but I don’t have a problem with Manchester United at all, I totally understand it.”
The injury to Maguire is one of the main reasons Southgate decided to delay naming his final 26-man squad until the official UEFA deadline of Tuesday.
The expanded 26-man squad size for the Euros will spare Southgate a few awkward Eric Dier-style conversations, but he admitted he fears it could end causing him more problems than it solves.
He knows from personal experience what it feels like to be one of the forgotten men having come home from the 2002 World Cup without playing a minute.
The saintly Southgate saw the bigger picture as one of the 23 in Japan but not all of his teammates did likewise, and he is realistic enough to know he could end up babysitting some frustrated dummy spitters.
“The challenge we have actually comes now as we have to pick 15 who aren’t on the team sheet happy. And that’s impossible by the way,” she admitted.
“If everybody is available and fit for each match, we could end up with people not even on the bench so that’s not great for the team dynamic.
“The dynamic of the group is something I can’t emphasise enough.
“It’s England first and ‘name on the back’ after because we could really fall down if we don’t get that right.
“The disappointment of not getting in has derailed teams in the past. I have seen it with other countries.
“When I left Japan I knew I hadn’t kicked a ball, but felt I had played a part for the team. I had provided strong opposition for the forwards, I had stopped Martin Keown from kicking them as he had the hump. I had enjoyed learning about the experiences of being away.
“It’s difficult. They are young players, they are driven, they want to play, they are ambitious. So we recognise we have to be emotionally intelligent to deal with that.”
Spain manager Luis Enrique opted to pick only 24 players in his squad to head off any potential splits before they have chance to develop.
Southgate, despite his reservations over UEFA’s expansion for this tournament, has chosen not to.
“I suspect he’s also got the backup of knowing their (Under) 21s are in the European finals and if they have any issues in the first ten days or so he will be able to call in some very good quality players from that group,” he said.
“With us we’d be calling players back off the beach after a fortnight and that wouldn’t work.
“I think the risk of not taking 26, especially if we’ve got injury doubts and we just don’t know what could happen with COVID, is too great.”