Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood will have the support of Gareth Southgate, even though the England manager suggested the pair’s breach of team discipline was more serious than first presumed.
Manchester City playmaker Foden and Manchester United forward Greenwood were sent home from the England camp having broken coronavirus protocols, after making their debuts during Saturday’s 1-0 Nations League win over Iceland.
The youngsters appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of the women they were said to be socialising with at England’s team hotel, a meeting forbidden under Iceland’s strict self-isolation rules in response to COVID-19.
Southgate changed personnel and formation for Tuesday’s 0-0 draw in Denmark, after which attention again turned to Foden and Greenwood.
The Football Association (FA) is investigating the incident and Southgate explained that what he has since learned of their actions means, irrespective of coronavirus rules, they would have been banished from his squad.
“I’ve spoken to both of them,” he told Sky Sports. “They know what’s happened is unacceptable and was unacceptable on a COVID basis but, as I’ve learned, was unacceptable on any basis. Either way, they would have gone home.”
Nevertheless, Southgate insisted he feels a duty of care towards Foden, 20, and Greenwood, 18.
“They’re young men, the consequence is there. They now need support. They’re everywhere in the press, everyone is wading in on them,” he said.
“They need help to rebuild, understand the expectation of being an England player and we need to help them in that process. We must help young people get back on their feet.”
The Three Lions boss did not rule out calling up the either player for October’s internationals, but insisted there is work to be done.
“There’s a lot of thinking and a lot of trust needs to be built first,” he said. “My mindset it not to hurt these boys anymore.
“They’re going through that with their families and their friends and I don’t need to add into that.”
Dream come true to make my @England debut tonight and a proud and emotional moment for me and my family. What a absolute privilege. #ThreeLions pic.twitter.com/EjejPO7GHB
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) September 8, 2020
Southgate handed out four more debuts in Copenhagen – Conor Coady and Kalvin Phillips from the start before Jack Grealish and Ainsley Maitland-Niles featured as second-half substitutes.
Their collective presence was arguably the most notable feature in a game where England switched to a 3-4-3 setup and struggled to create many chances of note before Harry Kane had a shot cleared off the line in stoppage time.
“We’ve learned a lot,” Southgate added. “We tried a new system, which we will get better at.
“Given everything we’ve had to deal with, 10 pull outs for various reasons… we felt we wanted to start with stability.
“We could have been a bit higher during the first half but we were in control.
“It wasn’t a game where we were going to be able to press as high for 90 minutes That had a bearing on our formation as well
“In the second half we felt we were in control with some of the changes. Mason [Mount] and Jack made us a bit more forward thinking.
“Ainsley and Conor did well, I was happy with the lads who made their debuts.”