Uncapped Gibson gets England call as Southgate prepares for Lithuania
LONDON: England manager Gareth Southgate has called up uncapped Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley.
Gibson replaces the injured Chris Smalling, who played in England’s 1-0 defeat by Germany in a friendly in Dortmund on Wednesday and has returned to his club Manchester United for treatment.
Fellow centre-back Gary Cahill, who captained the side in Germany, is suspended for the Lithuania game and has also left the training camp.
Gibson, 24, has never won a senior cap for England, but played for the Under-21s under Southgate.
Meanwhile, Southg ate needs more time to solve England’s captaincy problem, the manager has said.
Southgate will name his fourth captain in six games this weekend.
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, both absent from the English squad, have previously captained the side under Southgate.
“I guess I am giving myself time to think through what the best scenario (for captaincy) is, really,” Southgate told the British media.
“We did that with Gary (Cahill in Germany). I know he’s not playing on Sunday and it is opportunity to share that responsibility.
“I think people have stepped up in their performance, so there were people that weren’t wearing the ar mband that played with the ball as leaders.”
The former Middlesbrough boss said goalkeeper Joe Hart could be next in line for the captaincy role but he preferred developing more leaders in the squad.
“It’s something I want to think through, but it is not as important to me as making sure there is more development and that more are given responsibility.”
England are top of Europe’s World Cup qualifying Group F having won three of their four games, and are two points clear of second-placed Slovenia.
Meanwhile, England’s football authorities are still working with the police to identify the national team’s supporters who were involved in “disrespectful and disappointing” behaviour during Wednesday’s inter national against Germany.
English FA officials are liaising with the UK Football Policing Unit as they review video footage of the match.
England’s 1-0 friendly defeat was marred by supporters who booed the German national anthem and sang songs about World War Two, behaviour which has been widely condemned by leading football figures and British media.
Some noted with dismay how the chants, which included one song about German planes being shot down, had occurred just hours after the terrorist attack in London.
FA chairman Greg Clarke led the condemnation, saying in a statement on Thursday: “The behaviour of a section of the England support in Dortmund ... was inappropriate, disrespectful and disappointing.
“The FA has consistently urged supporters to show respect and not to chant songs that could be regarded as insulting to others.
“Individuals who engage in such behaviour do not represent the overwhelming major- ity of England fans nor the values and identity we should aspire to as a football nation.”
Any members of the England Supporters Travel Club found to have been involved with the anti-social behaviour face a possible order banning them from attending games.
The England fans’ behaviour was described by former Tottenham Hotspur manager David Pleat on the BBC as “pathetic ignorance” that was “scarring our reputation around the world”. – Reuters