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AFP
June 23, 2021

Covid chaos disrupts England and Scotland at Euro 2020

AFP
June 23, 2021

LONDON: England’s bid to win their Euro 2020 group had been thrown into chaos ahead of Tuesday’s clash with the Czech Republic after Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were forced to isolate following exposure to an opponent who has Covid-19.

Mount and Chilwell embraced Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour, their team-mate at Chelsea, on the Wembley pitch after England’s 0-0 draw with Scotland on Friday.

Gilmour was revealed on Monday to have tested positive for the virus and although the England duo have since tested negative, their close contact with him means they must remain in self-isolation up to and including June 28.

In a hammer blow to Scotland, the influential Gilmour must quarantine for 10 days and has been ruled out of their decisive game against Croatia in Glasgow on Tuesday.

England manager Gareth Southgate will be deprived of midfielder Mount, who has started both of the team’s group matches, and left-back Chilwell, yet to play in the tournament, against the Czechs at Wembley.

England are already assured of a last-16 berth, but Mount and Chilwell could also be ruled out of that tie, depending on where England finish in the group.

If England beat the Czech Republic and win the group, their first knockout game would be on June 29, but if they finish second, it would be the previous day. A third-place finish would see them play either this Sunday, or on June 29.

Southgate acknowledged the Covid issue was the worst possible preparation to play a Czech team also certain to advance to the last 16.

England are behind the group-leading Czechs on goal difference and must win to ensure they finish in first place.

Southgate’s side, who beat Croatia 1-0 in their opener, have been underwhelming

so far and were booed off following the drab stalemate against Scotland.

“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,” Southgate said.

The remaining members of the Scotland squad have passed lateral flow tests, following their negative PCR tests from Sunday.

But the loss of the 20-year-old Gilmour is a heavy blow following his man-of-the-match display against England in his first Scotland start.

Scotland, playing in their first major tournament since 1998, will make the knockout stage of an international competition for the first time if they beat Croatia.

“Billy would have started the game and now he won’t, so it’s a chance for someone else to come into the team and make themselves a national hero,” Scotland boss Steve Clarke said.

In Monday’s action, Denmark booked a last-16 clash with Wales after clinching second place in Group B with a stirring 4-1 rout of Russia in Copenhagen.

It has been an emotional rollercoaster for Denmark, who lost their first two matches after the shock of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in the opener against Finland.

“It’s insane that we’re through. It’s fantastic to be part of this, Totally amazing to hear people get crazy,” Damsgaard told Danish broadcaster DR.

Group winners Belgium advanced with a 100 percent record after a 2-0 win against Finland, who are likely to be eliminated after finishing third with three points.

In Group C, Austria won 1-0 against Ukraine to beat their opponents to a spot in the last 16. Austria will face Group A winners Italy at Wembley on Saturday for a quarter-final berth.