Wednesday, March 4th marks exactly 100 days until the start of Euro 2020. But as the tournament continues to get closer, there is still much uncertainty amid the growing threat of the coronavirus in the continent.
UEFA have come out and said that Euro 2020 will push through as planned, although a lot could still change in the three-plus months before the tournament officially kicks off.
Meanwhile, uncertainty also looms surrounding one of the tournament’s top contenders in England, with manager Gareth Southgate still hoping for the availability of two of his star players.
Elsewhere, Ireland have been handed a significant injury blow ahead of their crucial Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia later in the month.
UEFA ‘confident’ Euros will go ahead amid coronavirus outbreak
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin expressed confidence that they can deal with any worst-case scenario that may arise during the upcoming Euro 2020 amid the spread of the coronavirus.
“Let’s be optimistic and not talk about dark scenarios,” Ceferin said at a media conference in Amsterdam.
“You don’t know how many concerns we have when we organize a big competition … we have security concerns, we have political instability concerns and one of those concerns is the virus. We are dealing with it and we are confident that we can deal with it.”
Italy is the European country hit the hardest by the spread of the coronavirus. Several Serie A matches have postponed over the last two weeks, including the much-anticipated Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter.
The Italian capital Rome is one of the 12 host venues for Euro 2020, which will be played all across the continent for the first time.
While Ceferin is confident Euro 2020 will go on as planned, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has at least opened the door for the possibility that upcoming international fixtures, which include friendlies as well as the semi-final round of Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs, might be postponed due to the virus.
“I wouldn’t exclude anything at this moment. That’s why we have to look at the situation and hope that it will decrease rather than increase. At the moment it looks like it is still increasing.
“If games have to be postponed or played without spectators until it is over, then we have to go through that.”
Gareth Southgate hoping Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford will be fit for Euros
England manager Gareth Southgate remains optimistic about injured strikers Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford getting back to full fitness in time to play in Euro 2020.
“We’ve had really good updates right the way through and Harry and Marcus are exactly where we were expecting them to be,” Southgate said. “Both players will give themselves the best possible chance of being available, that’s their mentality and that’s their dedication to their sport.
“That’s the only bit we can guarantee, what we can’t guarantee is how that rehab will develop as it’s stepped up and as it becomes more intense. But they are both on track from the information we were given at the very start.”
Kane has been sidelined since suffering a torn hamstring on New Year’s Day. He’d played 25 games for Tottenham this season, scoring 17 goals with two assists.
Meanwhile, Rashford has been out after he suffered a double stress fracture in his back in late January. The 22-year-old had been having a terrific season for Manchester United, scoring a career-best 19 goals (14 in the league) in just 31 appearances in all competitions.
The presence of Kane and/or Rashford in the squad would be a huge boost for England, although much will also depend on their actual fitness and sharpness after long layoffs.
If neither Kane nor Rashford can make it to the Euros, the likes of Tammy Abraham, Danny Ings, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be left as Southgate’s main options to lead the line and produce some Euro 2020 highlights for the Three Lions.
Southgate will have the opportunity to give those players a run-out when England host Italy for a friendly at Wembley — if it’s not postponed.
Seamus Coleman to miss Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 play-off
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy is unlikely to have veteran defender Seamus Coleman for their Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia.
Coleman suffered a quad muscle injury in Everton’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Sunday.
“Seamus is struggling for the games. I’m told it could be four to six weeks,” McCarthy told RTE Sport.
The Irish face Slovakia in Bratislava on 26 March. The winner of that match will face the winner of the Northern Ireland vs Slovakia semi-final with a place at Euro 2020 on the line.
Coleman’s absence would be a blow to McCarthy and Ireland. The Everton defender is one of the most experienced players on the squad with 56 career caps.
If Coleman is ruled out, Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Matt Doherty is likely to start at right-back with Fulham’s Cyrus Christie also providing cover for the full-back role.
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