England face a midfield headache as Declan Rice is ruled out of Albania clash on Friday night by illness to join Mason Mount on the sidelines, with Jack Grealish doubtful after complaining of a sickness bug
- Declan Rice’s illness has added to England’s midfield woe for the next few days
- The West Ham midfielder was set to start against Albania on Friday night
- Jordan Henderson is set to start in Rice’s absence for the World Cup qualifier
England have suffered another blow after Declan Rice withdrew from the squad to face Albania, while there is concern over Jack Grealish’s availability for the World Cup qualifier.
Gareth Southgate will be without two-thirds of his first-choice midfield following Rice backing out on Wednesday because of illness. England will also be without Mason Mount for Friday’s clash as he recovers from dental surgery.
Rice and Mount had been sure to start the game against Albania, when victory for England would all but guarantee their place at next year’s World Cup. But the pair’s withdrawal leaves Southgate facing a selection problem in central midfield at Wembley.
Declan Rice has had to withdraw from England duty against Albania on Friday due to illness
Rice was set to start vs Albania on Friday but now England will have to rethink their midfield
Jordan Henderson (right) is likely to start in central midfield for the Three Lions in his absence
Kalvin Phillips seems certain to play, while the withdrawal of Rice opens the door to Jordan Henderson.
Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden are likely to battle it out for the final spot in Southgate’s midfield – as the direct replacement for Mount.
The manager’s selection headache was complicated on Wednesday after Grealish also complained of feeling ill.
The Manchester City playmaker was able to train, a sign that he could be available on Friday. But medics will monitor Grealish over the next 24 hours to ensure his symptoms do not worsen.
Meanwhile, some of England’s supporters will have the chance to go glamping in the desert at Qatar 2022.
Tournament chiefs are organising 175,000 beds for fans heading to the Middle East next year, including campsites, two moored cruise ships, hotels and fan zones.
Jack Grealish (left) is also a doubt for Friday’s clash after complaining of feeling unwell
But the plans to have luxurious desert-based campsites are among the most intriguing ahead of the tournament.
The FA will discover more when they send a delegation to Qatar on a fact-finding mission next month, providing England can clinch qualification in the coming days.
It is understood the FA have already pre-selected three possible base camps for the squad near Doha.
The way some facilities have been set up, teams may be located at the same base as rival squads with adjoining facilities.
Southgate is unlikely to travel to the Asia Cup in Doha next month because the Nations League draw takes place on December 16, and he is expected to attend that instead.
England are expecting 4,000 Albania supporters at Wembley on Friday, with many likely to be London-based. The FA are confident there will be no repeat of the disturbances which marred last month’s game against Hungary, when thugs attacked the police.