Wilfried Zaha 'not certain' for England's opening U21 European Championship match against Italy


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The Independent Football

England's Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has admitted that he cannot be certain Wilfried Zaha, the squad's most gifted player, will be fit to play in the opening European Championship group match against Italy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Manchester United's new signing sat out the first training session after only a brief warm-up.

Zaha and Chelsea's Nat Chalobah only joined the squad at the weekend, missing the week's preparation in Turkey because they had played for their loan clubs Crystal Palace and Watford in last Monday's Championship play-off final.

Zaha has been suffering from ankle problems for the past two months, but Pearce said: "He shouldn't be a doubt. He's obviously played a really full season. The plan was to do the warm-up and then work with the physios. We'll have another look at him and see where he is with regards to his fitness."

The only other strikers in the party are Connor Wickham and Marvin Sordell, neither of whom have been prolific this season, although in the Under-21s' remarkable run of nine straight wins, midfielders and even defenders have chipped in with goals.

Pearce added of Zaha: "He's on top form as you'd expect after his contribution to the whole season for Palace and getting a move to Manchester United, and on top of that winning the play-offs. He's been outstanding and he's left the club back in the Premier League so he'll be a cult hero with Palace for what he's achieved for them."

England have no other injury concerns, although Danny Rose and Tom Ince are both suspended for the first match.