Drinkwater's England future in doubt

By skysports.com
Danny Drinkwater has begun only one game since joining Chelsea in the summer

Gareth Southgate will continue blooding a new generation of England players in Friday's friendly against Germany, but Danny Drinkwater's international career is in the balance after his decision to stay away from Wembley.

The England manager has already handed out eight debuts in little more than a year in charge, with Crystal Palace midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek guaranteed to be the ninth, and starts are also expected for the uncapped pair of Jordan Pickford and Tammy Abraham.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford is likely to benefit from the injured Jack Butland - a cruel echo of the broken ankle he suffered against the Germans in 2016 - while Swansea striker Abraham could join fellow Chelsea loanee Loftus-Cheek in the XI.

Rookie defender Joe Gomez will be on the bench and the side will be captained for the first time by Tottenham's Eric Dier, who at 23 becomes the Three Lions' fifth-youngest post-war captain.

Amid all the new blood at St George's Park on Thursday, Drinkwater's non-appearance caused a stir with Southgate having reached out to the £35m Chelsea midfielder with the hope of bringing him back into the fold, only to be told by the 27-year-old he did not feel fit enough.
That is little surprise given he last completed 90 minutes while still with Leicester in April and has started just once since arriving at Stamford Bridge. A calf strain is understood to be the primary factor in his unavailability but Southgate was in reflective mood regarding future selection.

Asked whether he would be going back to Drinkwater in the next break, Southgate said: "I've no idea. I can't hypothesise over who I might be calling in March. I have no idea of how he feels or where he's at physically.

"I would have thought so, but we might have other players back by then. I wanted to find out where he felt he was.

"He's obviously only played 70 minutes for Chelsea in terms of starting and he felt he wasn't ready yet to play this level.

"The physical demands at this level are incredibly high now, you've got to feel that you are in peak physical condition.