Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood dropped from England team over Covid breach

7 September 2020, 14:09 | Updated: 7 September 2020, 16:45

Phil Foden (L) and Mason Greenwood (R) have been dropped from England duty
Phil Foden (L) and Mason Greenwood (R) have been dropped from England duty. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood have been dropped from the England football squad following a breach in coronavirus guidelines.

The decision means the Manchester City midfielder and the Manchester United forward will not play in the national team's Nations League fixture against Denmark on Tuesday night.

Manager Gareth Southgate confirmed on Monday that the pair would not be travelling from Iceland, where they both made their debuts on Saturday, to Copenhagen.

"Unfortunately this morning it was brought to my attention that the two boys have broken the Covid guidelines in terms of our secure bubble - we had to decide they couldn't have interaction with the rest of the team," Southgate said.

It comes after allegations arose in the Icelandic media outlet DV on Monday that the duo were visited by two local women during the trip.

The Football Association said in a statement that it is "launching a full investigation into the circumstances" leading up to Foden and Greenwood's breach of team protocol.

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Southgate added: "Given the procedures we have to follow, they will have to travel home separately.

The manager said the incident did not occur in the parts of the hotel the England squad are occupying and that his staff are still establishing the facts of what happened.

"What is clear is there is a breach of the Covid-19 guidelines. The whole squad have really followed that to the letter. I'm not going into any more details until I'm aware of everything," he added.

"We've spent a long time putting the guidelines in place, and the whole squad have followed that to the letter.

"We've had four tests in the period we've been together, our staff have done an incredible job of keeping it secure and tight, which was so important both to get the games played and also for the safety and security of our team and staff.

"So in that respect, we have no alternative but to do what we are doing."

But Southgate insisted: "Nobody from outside our party has been into the areas of the hotel that we occupy."

Asked whether there is a question mark over whether the match in Copenhagen will still go ahead, Southgate said: "We are very clear that no other members of our party have been in contact with those two players.

"That's why they couldn't go to breakfast this morning or join us for training. We are very clear we have followed all the guidelines in that regard.

"It's a very serious situation and we have treated it that way and acted as quickly as we have been able to."

"I'm trying to take a lot of information in. They have been naive and we have dealt with it appropriately.

"I recognise their age, but of course the whole world is dealing with this pandemic and there is a responsibility on every age group to play their part, to keep each other safe and not spread the virus.

"We are not certainly underestimating how important it is we keep the bubble the way we have."

When asked whether the incident had damaged their chances of England selection in the future, Southgate said: "It's too early, until I have all the information and am totally aware of every situation I don't think I should be making those comments.

"I'm a father of young children and I know young adults can get things wrong. We are not excusing that in this instance and we have to assess everything else moving forward.

"I think we have to treat every incident separately. These are two boys I don't know particularly well at the moment. I can't speak in great depth, I've got to try to speak with them later in the appropriate way.

"They've got responsibilities. They have apologised. But everything has happened so quickly, we've got to get to the bottom of all the facts."

Both players' respective clubs reacted promptly to the situation.

20-year-old Foden's club, Manchester City, released a statement condemning his behaviour.

It read: "Manchester City FC are aware of the story which has emerged today from the England national team camp in relation to the behaviour of Phil Foden. We have also seen the comments from England manager Gareth Southgate.

"It is clear that Phil's actions were totally inappropriate. His behaviour not only directly contravenes strict guidelines related to Covid-19, but also falls well below the standard expected of a Manchester City player and England international.

"The club supports the FA regarding this incident, and officials from the club are now in touch in relation to Phil's enforced early return to the UK.

"We have no further comment to make on this matter."

While 18-year-old Greenwood's club Manchester United said: "We are liaising with the Football Association and are disappointed with the actions of Mason Greenwood over this situation."

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton questioned the discipline of the team under Southgate.

Shilton tweeted: "Are the cracks starting to appear with the discipline in the England camp on the pitch and off it with Walker getting sent off in ridiculous fashion for a second silly challenge and Foden /Greenwood with off the field COVID breach!"

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