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England boss Gareth Southgate said the absence of Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount from the Euro 2020 win over the Czech Republic was a “bizarre situation” and “full of contradictions”.
Chilwell and Mount are self-isolating after they were seen interacting with Chelsea team-mate Billy Gilmour after England’s draw with Scotland on Friday.
Midfielder Mount and defender Chilwell will isolate until 28 June.
That is the day before England’s last-16 match against Germany, France, Portugal or Hungary.
Both players have tested negative for Covid-19, and Southgate said they were “hugely disappointed” to miss Tuesday’s game.
“We just have to get on with it,” he told ITV.
“It is a bizarre situation, they have spent 120 seconds too long in a fairly open space. It is full of contradictions for me, but we will get on with it.
“I don’t understand it because there are teams travelling around by planes, coach and by bus in enclosed spaces for hours and our two boys have been pinged. I really don’t get it.”
The entire squad had lateral flow tests on Monday, and all returned negative results.
After Chilwell and Mount initially isolated as a precaution on Monday, Southgate said having them quarantined for 10 days would be “the worst-case scenario”.
But Public Health England (PHE) worked with the Football Association to confirm the duo as close contacts of Gilmour.
Among Gilmour’s Scotland team-mates, however, there were no close contacts identified within the squad, with 25 players available to face Croatia on Tuesday.
Petr Cech, Chelsea’s technical director, questioned why Mount and Chilwell have had to isolate when none of Gilmour’s team-mates have.
In a post on Instagram, the 39-year-old said “it is incomprehensible”.
PHE guidance states someone could be considered a close contact and might have to self-isolate if they had a face-to-face conversation within one metre, or had been within two metres of someone for more than 15 minutes who tested positive for Covid-19.
“We will continue to follow all Covid-19 protocols and the Uefa testing regime, while remaining in close contact with PHE,” the FA said in a statement.
England were guaranteed a place in the last 16 after Monday’s results, and went through as Group D winners with a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic.
Mount had played every minute of England’s European Championship campaign prior to the match, but left-back Chilwell is yet to feature.
The FA said the players would “train individually in private areas” at England’s St George’s Park training base.
Mount said on social media that he was “absolutely gutted” to miss the final group game, while Chilwell tweeted “it’s a tough one to take”.