Less than two weeks until the Euros then. Are you ready? No, us neither.
But it’s coming and it’s coming very, very soon. The squads have to be confirmed on Tuesday, and even with UEFA’s concession of allowing an extra three players in what are now 26-man line-ups there are still going to be some disappointed players.
There’s also a load of pretty key players who won’t be there and others who might yet miss out – ranks swelled by Kevin De Bruyne’s mishap in the Champions League final…
Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands) – Ruled Out
Still working his way back from that season-wrecking (not just his) injury in October. In his own words: “It’s been a very, very long road. I had to take it step by step, as I have done. Things have been going well, I’ve not had a real setback or anything, I’ve just progressed nicely. In this latest stage for myself, I have come to a decision that I had to make: would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no? With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I’ve decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season. So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that. Obviously I am very gutted to miss the Euros.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) – Ruled Out
Bless him. Came out of retirement with great fanfare, then got a knee injury. Then the man who basically offered Covid outside for a fight reacted to a knee injury exactly as you’d expect, by insisting that it would take more than an injury that rules him out of a tournament to rule him out of the tournament.
It’s not over until I say It’s over pic.twitter.com/JHTZWmUN71
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) May 19, 2021
It ruled him out of the tournament.
Ansu Fati (Spain) – Ruled Out
An absolute Arsenal of an injury for the precocious 18-year-old, initially expected to be out for a few months when injured in November but has now been under the knife three times – most recently in March – with a view to making it back for Barcelona’s pre-season.
Harvey Barnes (England) – Ruled Out
Probably missed far more by Leicester than by England, but that’s no criticism. England just aren’t short of numbers in this position and Barnes’ availability would have been a textbook example of A Nice Headache To Have for Gareth Southgate, who can now instead squeeze another right-back into his 26-man squad.
Joe Gomez (England) – Ruled Out
England are not as well stocked at centre-back, though, and this one definitely hurt club and country a significant amount. Out since being injured on international duty in November and currently on the standard path for those who’ve accepted their Euro fate: targeting that all-important pre-season return.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany) – Ruled Out
Has undergone a therapeutic procedure on the patellar tendon of his right knee. It says so here.
First team player Marc ter Stegen underwent a therapeutic procedure today on the patellar tendon of his right knee by Dr. Håkan Alfredson and under the supervision of the Club’s medical services. The evolution will mark his availability. pic.twitter.com/x1GWItCAFy
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 20, 2021
See? Then it’s all the usual: two months out, pre-season, etc. and so forth.
Marco Reus (Germany) – Ruled Out
An interesting one, this. A player who has already missed a couple of major tournaments for reasons of injury and form has ruled himself out in order to rest after the stresses and strains of the last couple of years. Quite a brave decision that, but probably a quite sensible one and a thought that will surely have at least been rattling around the back of the minds of a few other players. “”After a complicated, strenuous and — thank God — ultimately successful season,” he said earlier this month, “I have decided along with the national team coach [Joachim Löw] not to travel to the Euros.” Fair play.
Harry Maguire (England) – Doubtful
Divides opinion and endlessly meme-able but still a vital player for club and country. Named in Gareth Southgate’s extended 427-man squad last week and apparently on course to overcome his ankle injury. Named on the bench for Manchester United’s Europa League final, which suggests he could probably play in an emergency although being on the United subs’ bench for that final turned out to be a pretty irrelevant pursuit for anyone.
Jordan Henderson (England) – Doubtful
Not as vital as he once might have been but still important enough for his fitness to have been a factor in Southgate’s delayed squad announcement. Now back in full training after the groin injury that kept him out of the last three months of Liverpool’s season and the expanded 26-man squads for this tournament may well be to Henderson’s benefit.
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) – Doubtful
The Champions League final was painful in more ways than one for the Manchester City and Belgium playmaker, forced out on the hour after a clash with Antonio Rudiger that turned out to have broken his nose and eye socket. That generally means at least three weeks out, and the tournament starts in two. Maths fans will tell you that doesn’t work, but De Bruyne’s brilliance and bigger squads means there’s a very decent chance Belgium gamble on him even if he sits out the first two – or even all three – group games. Also might play in a protective mask, which is always fun isn’t it?