Gareth Southgate Confident in Luke Shaw’s Euro 2024 Chances Despite Lengthy Layoff

Gareth Southgate Confident in Luke Shaw's Euro 2024 Chances Despite Lengthy Layoff
Gareth Southgate Confident in Luke Shaw's Euro 2024 Chances Despite Lengthy Layoff

Gareth Southgate has expressed optimism about Luke Shaw’s chances of making England’s final Euro 2024 squad, despite the defender’s absence from competitive football since February. Shaw’s last appearance for Manchester United or England was on February 18, when he exited early with a muscular injury during United’s 2-1 victory over Luton Town.

Southgate, addressing the media on Sunday, provided an encouraging update on Shaw’s recovery. “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, who has earned 31 international caps and scored in the Euro 2020 final, is facing a race against time to be fit for the tournament in Germany. With Southgate set to trim his initial 33-man squad to a maximum of 26 by Friday night, Shaw’s readiness remains a crucial consideration. Left-back has been a problematic position for England, and Kieran Trippier, typically deployed at right-back, might need to fill the role if Shaw is unavailable.

Southgate acknowledged the complexities of selecting Shaw if he’s not fully fit. “That’s the thing we have to work out because, of course, if he’s not ready for the first couple of games there’s a chance he could break down further down the line,” he explained. “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.”

He continued, “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 also confirmed that several key players, including Shaw, Harry Maguire, Anthony Gordon, Bukayo Saka, and John Stones, will miss England’s first warm-up game against Bosnia and Herzegovina at Newcastle’s St James’ Park due to various fitness issues. Jude Bellingham, who recently played in Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Borussia Dortmund, has been given a week off and will not feature in the upcoming friendlies.

“It’s about psychological freshness,” Southgate said regarding Bellingham’s absence. “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.”

Bellingham will join the squad in time for their opening Group C match against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on June 16. “It is not the most important thing,” Southgate said. “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.”

As England prepares for Euro 2024, Shaw’s fitness remains a significant focus, with Southgate balancing the squad’s immediate needs and long-term potential.

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