England duo Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell are major doubts for the Group D decider against Czech Republic at Wembley on Tuesday night after going into isolation after Scotland’s Billy Gilmour tested positive for coronavirus.
The Scottish Football Association announced on Monday morning that the 20-year-old midfielder had returned a positive Covid-19 result and would miss Tuesday’s crunch Group D encounter with Croatia.
Gilmour helped boost Scotland’s qualification hopes with a man-of-the-match display in Friday’s 0-0 draw at Wembley, where he interacted with Chelsea team-mates Mount and Chilwell. That was deemed enough to force the England pair into isolation, as a precautionary measure by Public Health England but remarkably no Scotland players were forced to do the same
Do England players have Covid-19?
All England players received negative results in Sunday’s round of UEFA pre-match PCR tests.
Mount and Chilwell also produced negative lateral-flow tests on Monday afternoon.
Why are Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell having to isolate?
Mount and Chilwell are believed to have been deemed close contacts to Gilmour after being seen hugging and talking to him on the Wembley pitch after the game on Friday night, and then interacting with him in the tunnel later that evening.
Guidelines state that anyone who has more than 15 minutes contact with someone who has tested positive, and within a two metre radius, is deemed as close contacts and should isolate for 10 days.
A PHE spokesperson told the PA news agency that it was “working with the FA to identify close contacts of Billy Gilmour and any risk to other players and staff”, and indicated any decision to tell players from the England team to isolate was made by the Football Association.
Will they be able to play against Czech Republic?
Southgate is braced to be without Mount and Chilwell for Tuesday’s match. Even if it is deemed they can join back in with the rest of the squad, his preparations have been disrupted.
Mount has started both Group D games for England so far and is a key man, while Chilwell missed out on a squad place for the opener against Croatia, and was an unused substitute against Scotland.
Asked about the duo’s availability for the group decider, the England manager said on Monday night: “Well, we don’t know at the moment.
“There’s obviously got to be quite a doubt, but there’s still a lot of discussions and investigations going on behind the scenes, so at the moment they’re isolating and we just have to find out over the last 12 hours or so.
“In terms of the team, we’ll need to go through details with the players in the morning really, so we’ll have to know by first thing in the morning of their availability and if not we’ll just have to play on without them.”
Why are Scotland players not isolating?
The confusion around why the Scotland layers, who shared a dressing room with Gilmour and who congratulated him after the England game, are not having to isolate. That includes manager Steve Clarke who was seen with his arm around Gilmour and head to head in the aftermath of the match.
Clarke’s men have been under the PHE umbrella, having stayed in Darlington and used Middlesbrough’s training ground – the same facilities used by England during their pre-Euros training base.
Gilmour was the only Scotland player to test positive in the UEFA pre-match PCR tests.
What has been said?
Asked why it just Mount and Chilwell, who were pictured embracing Gilmour on Friday, having to isolate, England boss Gareth Southgate said: “I don’t know all of the factors behind that.
“Clearly it’s nothing to do with being on the pitch so that’s why there is no issue with teams training, for example.
“It would be something to do with chatting after the game, but I have no idea of all the detail. That’s why we’ve taken the decision at this point to isolate them. That’s why we’re having to have the discussions with Public Health England, as I understand it.
“I don’t want to cause a drama for Scotland but if you’re all in the dressing room together, where does everything stand? I don’t know is the honest answer to that.
“Our medical people are dealing with all of this. I’ve been updated as regularly as I can be which is every hour or so when there’s a little bit more information and we have to accept whatever the situation is and adapt to it."