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Jack Grealish in battle for England squad place at Euro 2024

England player Jack Grealish smiles during England training ahead of their friendly match against Bosnia and Herzegovina at Rockliffe Park on June 02, 2024 in Darlington, England

Jack Grealish is battling for his place in England’s squad for Euro 2024, while Harry Maguire is emerging as a serious injury doubt for their tournament opener in Germany.

Grealish cut short his holidays to return to Gareth Southgate’s squad early after a disappointing season with Manchester City, where he was an unused sub in the FA Cup final and started one in the last seven Premier League games of the campaign.

While Southgate has a headache in defence with Maguire’s recovery from a calf injury taking longer than expected and Luke Shaw not yet in full training, he has plenty of options in attack with Eberechi Eze pushing to start against Bosnia and Herzegovina at St James’ Park.

Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw of England look on during a training session at Rockliffe Park on May 29, 2024 in Darlington, England
England are sweating over the fitness of Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw - Getty Images/Eddie Keogh

“We think we know who the best have been across the season, what we don’t totally know is how many we need to take or how many we can allow ourselves to take because of the cover we might need in other positions as well,” said Southgate.

“It’s obvious this season he [Grealish] has not played as much as last season. I’m sure he would have liked that to be different but we know the qualities he can bring and the qualities he has and he is a player we enjoy working with and a character we enjoy having within the group.

“We know where we’re likely to be. It’s hard to be quite so specific because we keep sitting down and saying: ‘Okay, if it’s this or this’. Then somebody else in the room says what ‘if we lose that player’.”

Kieran Trippier will captain England against Bosnia, with Harry Kane rested after a back problem but scheduled to start against Iceland on Friday. Anthony Gordon is out with an ankle issue, Bukayo Saka will rest after his recent groin injury, while Maguire and Shaw are confirmed absentees.

John Stones will sit out as he arrived late after the FA Cup final, so Crystal Palace centre-back Marc Guehi will start at centre-back, giving him a chance to play his way into Southgate’s team for Germany. When asked if Maguire will make the Euro 2024 opener against Serbia on June 16 in Gelsenkirchen, Southgate said: “We don’t know that at the moment.”

Southgate admits he cannot rely on players telling them how their injuries are healing when he makes his decision on his final 26-man squad on Saturday, with seven missing out on boarding the plane to Germany.

“They’re lying buggers really!” he said. “If you’re in a relegation battle, the treatment room is absolutely full. If you’re in a cup final it’s empty. I’ve learned that, from being here [at Middlesbrough], and playing cup finals as well. They have great intentions and are super positive, but equally they want to be on the plane, so have got to have a more in depth view than that. I’ll consult the players as little as possible.”

Southgate confirmed Kane is now in full training and will start later in the week. “He needed the first couple of days, but has trained fully since then,” he added.

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