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England Faces Injury Setback Before Belgium Clash

To fill the gaps left by the absentees, manager Gareth Southgate has called up Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford and Manchester City defender Rico Lewis to the senior squad. Trafford, 21, brings with him experience from England’s successful Euro Under-21 campaign last summer, marking this as his first call-up to the senior team. Meanwhile, Lewis, 19, who made his debut for the Three Lions against North Macedonia in November, provides added defensive cover.

The absence of Walker and Maguire stems from injuries sustained during England’s recent friendly against Brazil, with Walker forced off in the first half and Maguire substituted in the 67th minute. Crystal Palace’s Johnstone, although not featuring in the Brazil fixture, has also been sidelined.

This setback compounds England’s injury concerns, with Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane and Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka already ruled out. Kane’s absence, in particular, opens up an opportunity for Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and Brentford’s Ivan Toney to stake their claim in the forward line against Belgium.

Southgate acknowledges the significance of Toney’s potential start, highlighting the competitive nature of international football where opportunities are limited. He emphasizes Toney’s confidence and form at club level, underscoring his importance in Tuesday’s fixture.

The England manager praises Toney’s attributes, including his swagger and self-belief, while also noting his technical abilities such as passing and link play, which may have been underestimated. Southgate expresses confidence in Toney’s abilities and is eager to see him in action against Belgium.

As England navigates through injury setbacks, the stage is set for Toney and other emerging talents to seize the opportunity and make their mark in international football.

Credit: Portions of this article were inspired by BBC News.

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