England have been dealt a blow before their first fixtures since the World Cup after Raheem Sterling withdrew from the squad for the Nations League tie against Spain on Saturday and the friendly with Switzerland having suffered a back injury.
The Manchester City forward, who has been in excellent form this season and scored in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Newcastle, has remained at his club to undergo treatment and will not be replaced in Gareth Southgate’s party. His absence could result in Tottenham’s Dele Alli being asked to operate in a more advanced role in Saturday’s competitive fixture, with Adam Lallana also pushing to make his mark back in the set-up.
The other 22 players reported for duty at St George’s Park on Monday to begin preparations for the game against Spain at Wembley and the Switzerland friendly, which is three days later in Leicester. Southgate will check on the fitness of other members of the squad over the next few days.
The national team manager is acutely aware that most only returned to their clubs for training in early August, just before the start of the new Premier League campaign, and efforts will be made to ensure players are not risked if they are suffering from early season fatigue.