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Jude Bellingham: England call-up for Borussia Dortmund player in doubt due to coronavirus restrictions

FA officials were confident players wouldn’t be required to self-isolate for 14 days on return to Germany after international duty; however, Sky Sports News has confirmed a change in the Covid-19 rules in the region where Dortmund are based has now thrown that into doubt

By Rob Dorsett

A change in the Covid-19 rules in Germany could starve Jude Bellingham of his chance to join up with England for their first three World Cup Qualifiers, beginning next week.

FA officials were confident on Tuesday that Borussia Dortmund had a valid exemption from those rules, meaning their players would not be required to self-isolate for 14 days on return to Germany after international duty.

However, Sky Sports News has confirmed there was a change in the Covid rules for North Rhine Westphalia, where Dortmund is based, which was introduced late on Tuesday.

Gareth Southgate is keen to include Bellingham in his latest squad, which is announced on Thursday lunchtime, and the FA is still in talks with Dortmund in the hope that an exemption can be re-installed in time for the 17-year-old to join up at St George’s Park on Monday.

However, Dortmund’s head of first-team football Sebastian Kehl has always maintained the club will reserve the right to prevent players from travelling with their country, if it means they might be unavailable for training and matches on their return.

Bellingham became England’s third-youngest senior player behind only Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott when he came off the bench during November’s 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland.

The teenager, 17 years and 137 days old at the time, has already been omitted from the latest U21 squad with the youngster producing some eye-catching performances for Dortmund since joining from Birmingham City last summer.

So far, he has made 21 Bundesliga appearances and provided three assists.

England kick-off their World Cup qualifying campaign at home to San Marino on Thursday March 25 before facing Albania away (Sunday, March 28) and then Poland at Wembley on Wednesday, March 31.

Southgate’s impossible job?

Gerard Brand on the Pitch to Post Review show:

“If you look at those players who are now in contention for the Euros squad, the shift since the last set of internationals in November is quite amazing.

“You’re now looking at Luke Shaw battling with Chilwell for the left-back spot, or potentially Saka being used in a five-man defence, Ezri Konsa may even battle with his own Villa team-mate Tyrone Mings at centre-back. Does Tammy Abraham get in the team? Who is the goalkeeper? How on earth do you incorporate Sterling, Sancho, Rashford, Kane, Grealish, Foden, Mount, Maddison, Saka into the side?

“Quite a lot has changed since November. We talk about ‘welcome headaches’ a lot in football, but Gareth Southgate strikes me as somebody who likes continuity in his selections. He puts a lot of faith in players who have played well for him but maybe aren’t on form or getting minutes for their club.

“There is always a collective criticism to every England team selection, as if the 23 or subsequent XI pick themselves. It’s actually an impossible job for Southgate.

“The England camp is an environment where you meet for no more than a week at a time, and in this case there’s been a four-and-a-half month gap between meetings, so you have to have continuity in there in faces, personnel, and playing style. You can’t just pick the most in form players in 2021.

“So there will be the inevitable ‘Why hasn’t he picked x and y?’ questions, but Southgate is somebody who has his own vision for England.”

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