Jude Bellingham has been barred from travelling to the United Kingdom for England duty by Borussia Dortmund because of coronavirus quarantine issues.
The 17-year-midfielder, who made his senior debut against the Republic of Ireland last November and is in the throes of a stunning season, is in Gareth Southgate’s thoughts for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland at the end of the month.
The manager names his squad on Thursday and will be without a host of injured players including his first-choice goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford; Everton have confirmed he is out with the abdominal problem suffered against Burnley on Saturday.
Southgate will consider giving first call-ups to the Leeds pair, Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford, and recalling West Ham’s Jesse Lingard. Bamford is understood to be fit after the knock that forced him off against Chelsea on Saturday.
The Bellingham situation is fast-moving. Southgate and the Football Association had believed that he would not have to quarantine for 14 days upon his return to Germany from the UK – as required by German law. But on Tuesday the FA learned that there would be no exemption for the teenager.
Southgate hopes the situation could yet change again and, given that, he could decide to name Bellingham in his squad. But what is clear is that Dortmund are not prepared to be without the player for the two weeks that follow the internationals, not least because both legs of their Champions League quarter-final fall within the period.
Fifa has ruled that, because of the pandemic, clubs are not compelled to release players for the upcoming international window. Dortmund have refused to allow Gio Reyna to travel to Northern Ireland where his USA team are scheduled to play on 28 March. Dortmund would also have blocked Bellingham’s England teammate Jadon Sancho from travelling but he is out injured.
Lingard has made his case to Southgate with a series of impressive displays for West Ham, who he joined on loan from Manchester United in January. The midfielder has not featured for England since the Nations League finals in June 2019.
Luke Shaw and John Stones, in form for Manchester United and Manchester City respectively, are set for recalls as Southgate assesses the fitness of various players.
Also injured are Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Harvey Barnes, Danny Ings and Callum Wilson, and there are doubts over Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Bukayo Saka and Tammy Abraham.