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Gareth Southgate: England will miss ‘absolute soldier’ Kieran Trippier

England v Bulgaria – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group A – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Gareth Southgate says England will miss “absolute soldier” Kieran Trippier against Denmark, with the right-back unavailable as he deals with a Football Association hearing for alleged betting breaches.

The 30-year-old was one of the stars of the Three Lions’ run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and skippered his country for the first time in last Thursday’s 3-0 friendly win against Wales.

Trippier was one of only two players to retain a starting berth against Belgium on Sunday, with the full-back playing the full 90 minutes of the impressive 2-1 victory against star-studded Belgium.

But the Atletico Madrid defender will not complete England’s triple-header after leaving the camp to face an FA hearing for allegedly breaching betting rules in July 2019.

Kieran Trippier captained England against Wales last week

Kieran Trippier captained England against Wales last week (Nick Potts/PA)

“There is not a lot I can say about that, really,” Southgate said of Trippier’s withdrawal from the squad at the same time as Chelsea left-back Ben Chilwell through injury.

“It is not something that is in my control so I have got to focus on preparing the team with the players I have got available.

“We always find solutions. It is an opportunity for somebody else and if I lose focus on the job in hand… there are a million distractions, frankly.

“This is another distraction but it is something I have got to plough on through.”

Kieran Trippier swapped Tottenham for Atletico Madrid last year

Kieran Trippier swapped Tottenham for Atletico Madrid last year (Peter Byrne/PA)

Trippier moved from Tottenham to Atletico Madrid in July 2019 and was charged in May with alleged breaches of the FA’s betting rules during that month.

The right-back released a statement saying that he would continue to fully co-operate with the investigation and Southgate would “have liked to have had Kieran available” at Wembley on Wednesday.

“I think the less I say the better,” the England manager said. “But I think what is clear is I don’t have any influence on disciplinary procedure, which I think is correct.

“I can’t be influencing when things happen or how they play out.

Kieran Trippier opened the scoring in England's World Cup semi-final against Croatia in 2018

Kieran Trippier opened the scoring in England’s World Cup semi-final against Croatia in 2018 (Tim Goode/PA)

“Other than that I don’t think there is a lot to be gained by going into more detail, really.”

Southgate was more forthcoming about the qualities that England will be without against Denmark due to Trippier’s absence.

“I said after the game, he’s an absolute soldier for us, really,” he told talkSPORT.

“He’s a kid who since he worked with us has given absolutely everything, he’s had a huge impact on big matches and, you know, his defending, the grittiness of his defending the other day, was a key component in what was a very strong backline and a strong defensive performance that had to be.

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“You know, he was up against (Thomas) Meunier, who is an absolute giant in terms of both stature compared to Kieran but also the way he played, and he had to stand up to that challenge, so, yeah, 100 percent we miss him.

“But it’s an opportunity for somebody else. We consistently have had to look for alternatives.

“It’s very rare that we have a full squad to pick from – very, very rare. In fact, I can hardly remember there being an occasion where we have, and very often we’re having to do without two or three key players.

“It was the same on Sunday and we got the result. We’ve got to do the same on Wednesday.”

Southgate believes “the sign of a good team is to be able to back up a big result” as England look to beat Denmark days after overcoming Belgium.

Harry Kane came on with a third of Sunday’s match remaining having endured a stop-start week of preparation due to muscle fatigue.

Reports have subsequently emerged of a possible club-versus-country row with Tottenham over the star’s fitness, but such talk has baffled Three Lions boss Southgate.

“I’m puzzled by the furore, really,” he added. “We have spoken medically to medically (between respective departments) as we do with every player if ever they miss training.

Harry Kane has had a relentless early-season schedule at Tottenham

Harry Kane has had a relentless early-season schedule at Tottenham (Alex Livesey/PA)

“There are conversations on every player with every club pre-camp so we know exactly the condition.

“In the camp there is constant communications between all the medical teams.

“When Harry missed a couple of days last week, everybody was across that. Everybody knew the plan. We know there’s no injury.”