Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s first taste of the England senior set-up has ended prematurely due to a back issue.
The 21-year-old has settled in impressively at Manchester United since his summer arrival from Crystal Palace for a fee that could rise to £50million.
Wan-Bissaka’s form saw him rewarded with a maiden senior call-up for September’s home Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo, but injury has led to his early departure from Gareth Southgate’s squad.
A statement from the Football Association read: “Aaron Wan-Bissaka has withdrawn from the England squad.
“The Manchester United right-back has returned to his club due to a back issue.
“With Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier already included in Gareth Southgate’s now 24-man squad, no replacements are planned.”
Wan-Bissaka trained at St George’s Park with the England squad on Monday and United have described this issue as an “injury blow”.
Southgate kept close tabs on the talented right-back last term and he swept up at Palace’s end-of-season awards, only to endure a torrid time at the Under-21 European Championship with Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions.
Wan-Bissaka has responded well to that disappointment yet eyebrows were still raised when World Cup semi-finalist Kyle Walker was omitted from the senior squad, with Alexander-Arnold and the rejuvenated Trippier also selected.
“We tracked him very closely last year, and we thought he had an outstanding season last season, but we wanted him to stay with the Under-21 group,” Southgate said at the squad announcement.
“He’s adapted very well and very quickly to a high-profile move. And playing in front of 70,000 fans, that brings intensity and pressure.
“We’re looking at him and Trent and that’s the reason on this occasion that Kyle Walker isn’t with us, we feel it’s an opportunity in particular to have a look at two young players.
“We talked about the number of games we’ve got ahead of next summer.
“We think we need to see them quickly and we also wanted to reintegrate Kieran Trippier back into the group just so he knows that he’s still on our radar, and he’s obviously had a big – a huge – move to Atletico Madrid, frankly, that kind of goes under the radar a little bit here and he’s started the season really well.
“So, it is an area of the pitch where we have a lot of quality.
“Kyle has started the season really well, so I’ve explained to him the rationale for the thinking. It’s not the case that he’s not playing well for Manchester City – it’s quite the opposite.
“So, yes, that is an area of the pitch with some really good, and four very different, options.
“They all have completely different strengths, and we’re looking forward to helping some of them develop.”
Spain trained on Tuesday ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Romania on Thursday, and Faroe Island next Sunday.
Spain leads Group F with 12 points after victories against Norway (2-1), Malta (2-0), Faroe Island (4-1) and Sweden (3-0).
Watch them put get put through their paces above:
Jordan Pickford relishes the challenge of trying to hold on to the England No1 spot and believes growing competition will push him to another level.
The Everton goalkeeper has repaid Gareth Southgate’s faith since becoming first choice for the World Cup, where his penalty shoot-out heroics againstColombia were complemented by a man-of-the-match display in the quarter-final against Sweden.
Pickford’s ability on the ball was key to his getting the starting role ahead of Jack Butland – a player who was omitted for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo following a difficult start to the season with Stoke.
Tom Heaton and Nick Pope got the nod instead this time, but Angus Gunn, Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale are knocking at the door.
“I think it’s great for the GK union that there is that much competition,” Pickford said. “It means people will thrive and become better goalkeepers.
“It means you have to be performing for your club first and training hard, making yourself the best you can be at Everton for me, then England should take care of itself.
“The more competition the better. It will make me better as well. I think it’s six goalkeepers (in the Premier League), which is quality for us.”
Ben Foster takes the number of starting English goalkeepers in the Premier League to seven but is now retired from international duty, while Southgate is keeping tabs on Newcastle’s Freddie Woodman during his loan spell at Swansea.
The England manager’s options are keeping Pickford on his toes, so too the way he is willing to drop big names for the purpose of progress.
“You just look at the quality on the training pitch,” the goalkeeper said. “The quality is throughout the team and we all know what we want to achieve as a team.
“We all strive to be better on the pitch and as a squad it is always evolving.
“We have new lads in this week and everyone is fighting with the competition.
“You have to be playing well to be in the side and, for your club, you’ve got to be playing well.
“That is your first focus, then you have to do well when you come here. That is what everyone seems to do in training, the standard is unbelievable.”
Pickford considers himself among the top performers in the squad and is understandably confident after a promising start to the season with Marco Silva’s Toffees.
“I’m in good form and feel I’ve kicked on,” he said. “I feel strong and have been getting clean sheets.
“The main thing is winning and as long as we win it’s okay to concede now and again.
“We’ve started the season well and I’m making good saves and my distribution has been good as well.”
It is an encouraging start to a campaign that could end in memorable fashion.
Having reached the World Cup semi-finals and finished third in the inaugural Nations League, England are aiming for Euro 2020 success in a tournament that will start and end on home soil.
“It’s still a long way to go and we have to qualify first,” Pickford said. “We’ll be looking to get as many wins (as we can), starting with the two in front of us, but knowing that is on the other side next year is a great ambition for us to make it there.
“I haven’t taken too much thought into it as it is a year away.
“I’ve just got to keep playing well for Everton and then making sure I’m on my A-game if I play for England.
“When we get closer we’ll visualise it more, but at the moment we’re focused on qualifying.”