Gareth Southgate’s worst England injury crisis deepens as Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire withdraw

Kyle Walker passes the England captain's armband to Harry Maguire during the match against Brazil

Gareth Southgate’s worst injury crisis as England manager has deepened with Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire returning to their clubs after injuries at the weekend in the defeat by Brazil.

Manchester City’s Walker was taken off in the 20th minute at Wembley clutching his hamstring after initially trying to carry on, while Manchester United defender Maguire was a planned substitution in the second half as he is returning from an injury, although he went for a scan on Sunday morning to assess a complaint.

Sam Johnstone has also returned to Crystal Palace with an elbow problem and will be replaced by Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford. Manchester City’s Rico Lewis has also been drafted in.

Southgate had already confirmed that Harry Kane would return to Bayern Munich and miss the friendly against Belgium on Tuesday with an ankle problem. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luke Shaw were with the squad for the Brazil game but are also on England’s lengthy injury list.

The England manager called the injury casualties “the highest we have ever had, no question” on the eve of the Brazil defeat, saying that his pool of 40 to 50 players had been reduced by a third due to fitness problems.

New deputy captain needed

Kieran Trippier is another senior player who will be absent for the final friendlies before the summer. Marc Guehi and Levi Colwill also missed this international break and Reece James is a long-term absentee. Bukayo Saka pulled out as a precaution last week and Jack Grealish and Callum Wilson were among the attackers who missed out.

Losing Walker, who was captain against Brazil in Kane’s absence, is another blow. Ezri Konsa came off the bench for his debut against the South American opponents and the Aston Villa defender is one of Southgate’s only options left at right-back.

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has played at right-back previously but may be needed on the opposite flank against Belgium as Ben Chilwell is returning from injury and played 67 minutes on Saturday. City’s Lewis can also play left-back.

It was revealed ahead of these internationals that Ben White made himself unavailable for England duty after his excellent form for Arsenal. He had returned home early from the World Cup in 2022 and has not played since. He was pictured in Dubai on holiday this weekend.

Walker’s departure also means there will be another deputy captain for Kane, with Jordan Henderson the next most experienced player in the squad.

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