England will miss ‘soldier’ Kieran Trippier – Gareth Southgate

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.

Kieran Trippier captained England against Wales last week
Kieran Trippier captained England against Wales last week

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.

“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

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 an investigation that appears to now be reaching a head.

Asked about the impact of Trippier’s absence against Denmark, Southgate told talkSPORT: “I said after the game, he’s an absolute soldier for us, really.

“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.

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

“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 underlined the importance of following up the win against Belgium with a further three points to keep the Three Lions atop of Group A2.

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 don’t really understand the story because he’s been fully fit since the end of last week, just before the last game,” he said.

“He would have stated the last game but hadn’t had enough training time really.

“He was obviously fine during the game so he’s fit, available. I didn’t really understand the stories that were being run so where that’s been coming from… it is certainly not the conversations we’ve been having with Spurs, medically, and it is not something that is really affecting us in the camp.

“He hasn’t had an injury. He was feeling muscle soreness which can happen to athletes but there was no injury at any point.

“We don’t risk players. I’ve said this before the camp last week. I’ve been a player. My priority is always the welfare of players.

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

“We’ve ended up on very rare occasions with a couple of injuries during matches. That’s pretty much unavoidable. But we’ve never lost a player through an error in terms of our training loading and we pride ourselves on looking after the players.

“We want them fit, we want them as sharp as possible for the games.

“Our issue with Harry before Sunday’s game was to be ready to perform at the highest level. Now he’s got an additional couple of days training, it is not even an issue.”