Southgate: Shaw on course for Euro 2024 return

Gareth Southgate has said that he believes Luke Shaw has “a good chance” of making England’s final Euro 2024 squad despite the defender having not played competitive football since February.

Shaw’s last appearance for club or country came on Feb. 18 when he limped off with a muscular problem early in the second half of Manchester United’s 2-1 win at Luton Town.

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Southgate admitted at last month’s provisional squad announcement that the 28-year-old was “up against it” in his bid to make the plane to Germany, with the England boss having until Friday night to narrow down an initial 33-man selection to a maximum of 26.

But Shaw reported early for England duty following the end of the domestic season as he battles to prove himself and Southgate offered an encouraging update when speaking to reporters on Sunday.

“He’s progressing very well, I have to say,” Southgate told TalkSport. “I think I said last week that until we had the players in front of us working with us, there was a lot of information that we didn’t have.

“We’re pleased with how he’s progressing. There’s still a bit to do before he can get on the pitch in a game situation.

“But really pleased with the work he’s doing with our physical performance team and our medics, so, yeah, he’s in with a good chance.”

Shaw has amassed 31 international caps and scored the opening goal in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy. Left-back is a problem position for England with Kieran Trippier, typically used at right-back, the most likely candidate to start at Euro 2024 if Shaw is unavailable.

Pushed on whether it was worth gambling on Shaw’s inclusion even if he is not fully fit, Southgate said: “That’s the thing we have to work out because, of course, if he’s not ready for the first couple of game there’s a chance he could break down further down the line.

“You’ve got to make sure you’ve got enough cover in that situation as well, so there is a bit of a numbers game for us to play over the next few days.

“OK, how many do we need in each position? We’ve got to cover ourselves.

“Clearly, he’s a specialist left-back that’s an incredibly high-level player as well, so you’re more likely to take a chance on a player that’s been a regular starter that we think can really add to the starting 11.

“But there’s a knock-on, there’s an impact to all of those decisions and that’s why we’ve got to look at the full picture and not just each individual.”

Southgate confirmed that Shaw, Harry Maguire, Anthony Gordon, Bukayo Saka and John Stones will all miss Monday’s first warm-up game against Bosnia and Herzegovina at Newcastle’s St James’ Park as England’s preparations are hampered by a variety of fitness issues.

Jude Bellingham will also be absent against Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for Friday’s friendly against Iceland at Wembley after the midfielder was given a week off following Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Borussia Dortmund.

“It’s about psychological freshness,” said Southgate. “We could make him report tomorrow, we could be heavy, you’ve got to be with the group, and integrate as quickly as possible’.

“But let’s think about the individual. That’s what we are always trying to do. Jude has played right to the end, beyond where everybody else has played.

“Psychological freshness will be good for him. He’s super professional, he’s going to physically tick over. For us we didn’t need to see him before next Saturday.”

That decision means that Bellingham will not feature for England until their opening Group C match against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on June 16 but Southgate added: “It is not the most important thing. The most important thing for Jude is rest, recovery.

“We’ll benefit from that. That’s the constraints of international football: we don’t have the players as often as you do at a club to quite be as cohesive so you have to work out what are the most important things.

“At this moment in time in my opinion, for Jude, and therefore for the team, the most important thing is time to recover and psychologically switch off.”

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