Gibbs withdraws from England Under-21 squad

Stuart Pearce's dream of fielding the strongest possible England side at the European Under-21 Championships suffered yet another blow today when Kieran Gibbs pulled out of the squad.

Arsenal full-back Gibbs became the fourth of six senior internationals head coach Pearce had picked in his provisional 40-man party to withdraw from this month's finals.



Gibbs, 21, was officially ruled out shortly before the squad departed for Denmark this morning, having aggravated an ankle injury as a second-half substitute in Sunday's final warm-up match against Norway.



His withdrawal followed that of Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll and Micah Richards, all of whom Pearce had been counting on being available.



Pearce, who elected not to replace Gibbs in what is now a 22-man squad, said: "We have to deal with setbacks every now and again, but we are fortunate to have a squad and a staff with previous tournament experience.



"It's unfortunate for Kieran, but he went for a scan yesterday and is in a medical boot."









Jordan Henderson and Danny Welbeck are now the only two players left in the squad with senior caps, and the latter is not even fully match fit.



Manchester United striker Welbeck, who was forced out of England's squad for the 2009 finals in Sweden, was dogged by knee and hamstring problems during the second half of his season-long loan spell at Sunderland.



The 20-year-old has not completed 90 minutes for club or country in more than two months ahead of England's European Championship opener against Spain on Sunday.



Welbeck, who missed the final month of the season due to his hamstring injury, said: "The disadvantage is I'm not into my match routine, because I haven't played a full game for about six weeks.



"But, on the other hand, you could say I'm a bit fresher if I can get my fitness back up with the other lads'."



There will be no time for Welbeck to ease himself into the finals, with England facing the toughest possible group out in Denmark.



Matches against Czech Republic and Ukraine follow Sunday's mouthwatering curtain-raiser against Spain.



Along with England, the Spanish will be pre-tournament favourites, and they boast more than one senior World Cup-winner in their ranks.



Welbeck said: "Spain are a good team but we're going to go in there and give it our best shot.



"We'll have players in our team they'll fear as well so it should be a good game and I'm looking forward to it."



He added: "I think we've got a really good squad. Everyone's young and hungry and eager to improve, and wanting to be winners."



Welbeck looks certain to start on Sunday, having already made his senior England debut in March's friendly against Ghana.



But the striker said: "There's nobody nailed on to start in the team.



"We've seen from the quality in training that whoever is coming into the team is going to be able to give it their best shot and it's not going to downgrade anything."



Nevertheless, it is extremely unlikely Pearce will break up what could prove a lethal partnership between Welbeck and Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge.



Welbeck said: "You get to know each other and get to develop an understanding with each other and hopefully we can take that with us into the championships."



Welbeck and Sturridge take it in turns to patrol the central and wide areas, while Swansea striker Scott Sinclair could also come into the equation if Pearce opts for a three-pronged attack.



Welbeck said: "When we play up front together, whether we start in the middle or out wide, I think we'll be mixing and matching anyway, so anybody could play in any of the three positions."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor