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England boss Gareth Southgate blasted for taking injured ‘cheerleaders’ to Euro 2020

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Gareth Southgate has been criticised for taking “cheerleaders” to Euro 2020 as part of his 26-man England squad. Jamie O’Hara believes Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire should only have been selected if they are fit enough to start England’s first match against Croatia on June 13.

Southgate cut down his initial 33-man squad on Tuesday, with Aaron Ramsdale, Ben Godfrey, Ben White, James Ward-Prowse, Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins told they would not be a part of the group at this summer’s tournament.

Liverpool midfielder Henderson and Manchester United centre-back Maguire were both included in the squad, despite struggling with injuries.

Henderson has not played since February 20 and was forced to undergo surgery on a groin injury, while Maguire hasn’t featured since injuring ankle ligaments in United’s win at Aston Villa on May 9.

Henderson is due to make his comeback in England’s final warm-up game against Romania on Sunday, while Southgate is confident Maguire can contribute during the tournament.

Despite the England manager’s prognosis, former Tottenham midfielder O’Hara believes their places would be better taken by fully-fit players.

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“What are we doing, as a country, taking injured players? You can’t take players to major tournaments who aren’t fit,” he told talkSPORT.

“We don’t need cheerleaders, we need players. And we need players who will make a difference.

“At the moment, we’ve got cheerleaders. We’ve got Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson.

“Great players, love them both. If they’re fit, they start. If you ain’t fit, you can’t go mate! Simple as that.”

Southgate will have to name another player in his squad after Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a thigh injury against Austria on Wednesday.

The Liverpool right-back is expected to be sidelined for six weeks with a grade two tear of his left quad, meaning another player will need to be called up.

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With three right-backs still in the squad, Southgate will choose between Godfrey, White, Ward-Prowse, Lingard and Watkins.

Meanwhile, the England boss provided an update on Henderson’s condition after he was forced to sit out of the 1-0 win over Austria at the Riverside Stadium.

“The plan, as it was on Wednesday, is that he’ll be involved in the game,” he said. “The last few days of training have been positive for him.”

Maguire is further from making a return, but Southgate still thinks he can play a part in the upcoming Group D matches against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic.

“With any injury it’s impossible to predict 100 per cent,” he said.

“The medical team are pleased with his progress, especially the last couple of days. We know there’s always that risk but all of the guide is that he should be available.”

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