Harry Maguire is targeting a return for England’s final Group match with Czech Republic.
Maguire began training at St George’s Park on Thursday after being out with an ankle injury having damaged ligaments in Manchester United ’s win at Aston Villa on May 9.
England defender Maguire is hoping not to have any setbacks but clearly lacks match fitness and is well short of being ready to face Croatia on Sunday and even Scotland the following Friday.
Manchester United captain Maguire is hopeful though of being ready to play at least some part of the next Group match on June 22 which could be decisive for qualification.
It was always a gamble for England boss Gareth Southgate to include Maguire but he is a big presence and important figure for the defence and his absence has raised doubts ahead of the tournament.
Maguire’s return to some form of full training at St George’s Park is a major boost for Southgate and England which will also show that he can play some part in the tournament.
Southgate may stick with a back four which he has used in the friendlies with Austria and Romania and they kept clean sheets but Maguire is a big miss.
That leaves Southgate with a dilemma over who to come in with John Stones a favourite to start and they have tried different set-ups this week as Tyrone Mings is also pushing for a chance.
Conor Coady is another option, while Southgate bolstered his central defence by calling up Ben White to his squad earlier this week following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury.
Brighton defender White made his first Three Lions start in the 1-0 victory over Romania following an appearance off the bench against Austria.
How do you rate England’s chances against Croatia and Scotland without Harry Maguire in the starting XI? Comment below.
“To make it to the final squad was unbelievable,” said White.
“It’s been very surreal. Obviously I didn’t think this would be happening. I thought I’d be somewhere hot like Portugal [for the summer].
“It’s mind-blowing. I didn’t really expect any of it to happen. To make it to the final squad was unbelievable. I don’t think it can be bad news when the gaffer is going to ring you.
“I was just waiting for the call. I don’t think I’ve let it settle in yet.
“It’s something I’ve never felt before. It’s very difficult. It’s news that doesn’t normally come around. I was speechless and I felt amazing.”
White, 23, made 36 Premier League appearances for the Seagulls this season to earn a spot in Southgate’s provisional 33-man squad last month, paving the way for his eventual call-up.
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