Luke Shaw’s injury-hit season came to an abrupt close yesterday when the Manchester United teenager was a surprise omission from England’s European Under-21 Championship squad with a problem related to the concussion he suffered against Crystal Palace on 9 May.
Shaw, 19, was taken off on a stretcher in the first half of that match and did not figure against Arsenal on Sunday. Such is the sensitivity around the Football Association at divulging details of injuries not previously made public by clubs, the Under-21s coach, Gareth Southgate, refused to disclose the reasons for Shaw’s omission.
It is understood that Shaw’s concussion against Palace, when he was struck by James McArthur’s arm, has ruled him out of any contact training for a few weeks. Given that the tournament starts for England on 18 June, and there is a friendly against Belarus a week earlier, the concern was that Shaw would be playing for England less than match fit and in danger of aggravating a more serious problem.
Shaw will not feature against Hull City on Sunday and his manager, Louis van Gaal, was opposed to the full-back playing any part in the tournament, having previously supported the case for the player’s inclusion. The FA was still looking at the possibility of including Shaw in the 27-man list right up to Tuesday, when Southgate decided that it would not be in the player’s best interests.
At St George’s Park, Southgate would give no further details beyond saying that Shaw was “medically not fit”. He conceded that in future the FA might be stopped from discussing injuries to all England players by clubs paranoid about the information impacting on them.
Southgate said: “We had a couple of young players with injuries in the last camp and we started to go into detail and clubs aren’t very keen on that,” he said. “Medically we don’t own the players, they could go into fixtures the following week and someone could target that.”
He named 27 players on a “long list” with four to be cut, notwithstanding injuries, in time for the new Uefa deadline of 7 June. Harry Kane was called up despite Tottenham’s reservations that the striker is now a member of the senior squad and will not be given enough rest over the summer. Five Under-21-eligible established senior England players, including Raheem Sterling and Jack Wilshere, were never under consideration
Southgate said: “With Harry we could have said [the Under-21s were] ‘not the right thing’ but we think he has been a big part of this. He has been part of the dynamic of the group. We want to give him the chance to say he can do this on a big European stage and a fantastic experience.”
The youngest player in the squad is Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who turned 19 in January and has impressed Southgate with his performances for the England Under-19s. It is notable that the Premier League’s top four clubs provide only six of the 27 players, with two of those six – Carl Jenkinson and Patrick Bamford – currently away from their parent clubs on loan. There are none from Manchester City.
Southgate said that it was the consensus of himself, Roy Hodgson and Dan Ashworth, the FA technical director, that “we cannot focus just on winning” but that also the team had a good chance of doing so.
“France at various levels caused us a problem because their physical profile is powerful and we have been [selecting] quite diminutive [players] in midfield in particular. We’ve gone for footballers because they are the best players in that age group ... but when I look elsewhere, I’m not seeing countries we are miles behind in youth development.
“We want to give belief to people in England who are working in youth development. We are producing good players, they can play and the challenge for them is to now go and be successful as well. That will be really powerful for everybody.”Reuse content