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Jude Bellingham: England midfielder allowed to join squad after latest German coronavirus update

Jude Bellingham was included in the 26-man squad named by Gareth Southgate on Thursday; 17-year-old made his international debut against Ireland in November 2020; England play World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham has been given permission to travel from Germany to join up with England’s squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The 17-year-old was named on Thursday in the 26-man group selected by Gareth Southgate to play San Marino, Albania and Poland later this month.

Coronavirus restrictions in Germany had initially threatened to prevent Bellingham from taking up his place, but on Sunday the FA shared an update on the former Birmingham player’s availability.

“We’re pleased to confirm that – following the latest COVID risk update from German authorities – @BellinghamJude is now permitted to join up with the #ThreeLions tomorrow,” England said on Twitter.

Southgate said following the announcement of his squad that it was “looking doubtful” Bellingham would be able to play, with the teenager facing a 14-day self-isolation period upon his return to Germany from international duty.

Borussia Dortmund had made it clear they would not allow any players to go abroad if it meant they would be unable to train and play for their club upon their return.

Since joining Dortmund from Birmingham for an initial fee of £25m in July 2020, Bellingham has established himself as a first-team regular for the Bundesliga side, having featured in 35 matches across all competitions this season.

The turn of events will make him available for England’s home match against San Marino on March 25, an away fixture against Albania on March 28, and then a return to Wembley to host Poland on March 31.

Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Sam Johnstone, Nick Pope

Defenders: Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Jesse Lingard, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse

Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Ollie Watkins

Fresh and familiar faces given final audition for England’s Euros squad

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

After days of speculation about Patrick Bamford and news of Michail Antonio’s switch to Jamaica, it was Ollie Watkins who ultimately got the available striker’s spot in Gareth Southgate’s England camp for their World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania, and Poland. And what an opportunity it is for the 25-year-old – who was playing in the Championship last season – to make his mark.

The Aston Villa frontman is one of two fresh faces in the group, along with West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, while Jesse Lingard is a familiar name returning to the international stage, after reviving his career on loan from Manchester United at West Ham, and John Stones has earned a recall too.

Johnstone, Lingard, and Watkins have benefitted from injuries, with Jordan Pickford, Jack Grealish, and Tammy Abraham out, but they are timely call-ups – and come with the opportunity to seize a place in the squad for the European Championships later this summer. This, after all, will be the last major audition ahead of that tournament.

With five centre-backs selected – plus a couple of full-backs who can fill-in – it is clear Southgate intends to continue with a three-man defence, but further up the pitch, with Jordan Henderson injured, the midfield make-up is far from clear, although the manager’s admiration of 17-year-old Jude Bellingham is plain to see.

Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and Marcus Rashford appear to be the likely forward combination, with Jadon Sancho sidelined and Mason Greenwood, Callum Hudson-Odoi joining Emile Smith Rowe in the U21 squad for their European Championship games. However, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka offer exciting options on the front foot.

This may be the final round of England fixtures before the Euros – but there’s still lots to be decided. Key players are out injured. Now it’s down to their replacements to show what they can do.

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