England have qualified for the Euro 2020 knockout phase without kicking a ball on Monday.
This has come at the end of a chaotic day that saw Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell go into isolation after Scotland’s Billy Gilmour tested positive for coronavirus.
The Scottish Football Association announced on Monday 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.
The England pair are having to isolate on the eve of Tuesday’s game against the Czech Republic.
This is a precaution following consultation with Public Health England, with discussions about the situation ongoing.
The fact Gilmour’s positive results appears to be having a bigger impact on the Three Lions than Scotland has left Gareth Southgate confused.
But any stress over qualification was removed by results elsewhere on Monday.
Four of the best third-placed teams at the rearranged Euros progress to the knockout phase.
England’s four-point haul now guaranteed to put them in that bracket whatever happens against the pool-leading Czechs.
Southgate is braced to be without Mount and Chilwell for Tuesday’s match.
This is in spite of the pair producing negative lateral-flow tests on Monday afternoon following negative results in Sunday’s round of UEFA pre-match PCR tests.
Asked about the duo’s availability for the group decider, the England manager said: “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.”
A PHE spokesperson told the media that it was “working with the FA to identify close contacts of Billy Gilmour and any risk to other players and staff”.
He indicated that any decision to tell players from the England team to isolate was made by the Football Association.
Southgate, who had been due to have Mount alongside him at the pre-match press conference, said: “We had worked with the players this morning on the training pitch.
“So, then of course we find out when we finish that this is the situation.
“I can’t say it isn’t disruptive. We don’t really know at this point whether they might be OK for (Tuesday) or they could be out for 10 days.
“So, there are a lot of unknowns frankly at this moment in time.”
Among the many things Southgate is trying to get his head around is how England are having to prepare without two players.
Scotland on the other hand have avoided further absences in spite of Gilmour’s positive test being in their camp.
Steve Clarke’s men have been under the PHE umbrella, having stayed in Darlington and used Middlesbrough’s training ground.
It was the same facilities used by England during their pre-Euros training base.
“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,” he said.
Ex-England striker Gary Lineker shared similar confusion about the differing impact on the sides following news that Mount and Chilwell were isolating.
“This is odd,” he wrote on Twitter. “They may have had close contact with Billy Gilmour, but if they continue to test negative surely they can play.
“Otherwise, surely every single Scottish player, who all hugged Gilmour after the game, won’t be allowed to play either. Makes no sense.”(dpa/NAN)