England trio ‘optimistic’ of making the World Cup despite injury setbacks

The Three Lions could see their squad boosted by three regulars returning

Three Lions trio Reece James, Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker could yet make the World Cup despite not being set to play any more club football before the tournament begins next month.

Manchester City duo Phillips and Walker have both been sidelined since the start of the month, with the midfielder undergoing shoulder surgery and Walker suffering a groin injury. Meanwhile, James picked up an innocuous-looking knee injury in the Champions League, only for a scan to confirm it was worse than first feared.

In the case of the City pair, there is increased confidence that they will both be passed fit.

“I’m confident. I’ve been through enough in my career to know my body” Walker told 5live after his surgery earlier in the month.

And Pep Guardiola confirmed that he thinks both the defender and compatriot Phillips are in the hunt to be included in Southgate’s 26-man squad ahead of their opener against Iran next month.

“They are optimistic and they are in touch with the national team”, the Cityzens boss explained. “Hopefully they will be OK to be selected, but it is up to the national team.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender James was forced off against AC Milan last week, and a subsequent knee scan has seen him ruled out of action up to the tournament in Qatar. But, the Englishman has not ruled himself out of a return for the World Cup.

“I am trying to be positive”, he told the Sun. “I am not not sure how long this injury will take. I am not in pain. But if I try to speed it up, it might be bit of a risk...”

“I am trying every day to improve and make it right and get fit as soon as possible”.

Though Southgate will be sweating on their fitness status, having any of the trio available will come as a major boost to England’s tournament hopes in what could be the Englishman’s final major tournament in charge according to reports.

With Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw both spending more time on the substitutes bench than the pitch with their current club, Southgate will be keen to have the defenders back in particular, with both Walker and James the most obvious candidates to fill in on the right side of England’s back three.

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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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