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John Stones’ injury latest as England’s Euro 2024 concerns mount

When the clock struck midnight on Friday, it signalled a deadline for the submission of Euro 2024 squads that in one sense, did not matter to Gareth Southgate, and in another was a looming reminder of England’s mounting injury problems.

Southgate had chosen to make his seven cuts – Harry Maguire, Jack Grealish, Jarell Quansah, James Maddison, Curtis Jones, James Trafford and Jarrad Branthwaite – to whittle his squad down to 26 before the final friendly against Iceland.

A 1-0 defeat at Wembley, a horrorshow only differentiated from that famous humiliation at Euro 2016 because it was not a competitive match this time, was about the worst preparation imaginable.

With Maguire failing to recover from a calf injury, at the very least it was assumed the biggest call would be who partners John Stones at centre-back – and so, came a bitter inevitability about the Manchester City defender hobbling off at half time. Ezri Konsa, his replacement, struggled to convince.

Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live afterwards that the decision to withdraw Stones was “mainly precautionary”, adding: “He took a bit of a knock to the ankle really early in the game, but at half time there was no point taking any chance. We’re too close to the start of the tournament, there’s no point risking it.”

i understands Stones will undergo further assessment this weekend.

England suffered a further scare when Marc Guehi, who started alongside Stones and is expected to be England’s first choice in Maguire’s absence, also required treatment after going down in the 72nd minute.

Lewis Dunk, the most likely alternative, watched from the bench and it was understood he was carrying a knock that is not serious enough to have any bearing on his participation at the Euros.

Luke Shaw did not play any part either, having missed the last 17 matches of Manchester United’s season with a hamstring issue.

Southgate has admitted selecting Shaw is a “gamble”, yet with no other recognised left-back available he had little choice.

Shaw risks missing England’s opener against Serbia but could be fit to face Denmark in their second match on 20 June.

Kieran Trippier started as a left-back at Wembley, a position Southgate has deployed him in previously, with Joe Gomez coming on in the second half.

Even without a mounting injury list, question marks hovered over a defence that undermines England’s chances this summer. The Iceland defeat was a wake-up call that may have come too late.

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