England’s Fabian Delph is ready to miss a World Cup match to be at the birth of his third child.
All eyes are on Monday’s Group G opener against Tunisia in Volgograd, with Gareth Southgate‘s squad made aware of his intended starting line-up two days early.
Delph did not give away whether he got the nod but is ready to forego a starting role this summer in order to be by wife Natalie’s side.
It is hard to remember a similar scenario with England at a major tournament, but the midfielder’s partner is due to give birth on June 30 – just two days after the final Group G match against Belgium.
“I don’t think it would affect me mentally,” Delph said.
“Obviously I’d have to get back to England and then get back again, so that’s obviously not ideal but it’s part of life.
“I’m about to have my third child and I’m not going to miss it if I can help it, but I want to get back as fast as I can, so we’ll have to see.”
Asked if he was prepared to miss a game if it came to it, Delph said: “Yeah, absolutely.
“We’ve got a fantastic squad, great players, and if I am selected to play and I have to make my way back to see my family, there are players more than capable of doing the job I can do, if not a lot better.
“I’m confident with that decision, yeah, definitely.”
Delph joked he would have a private plane waiting “with lots of champagne” on it.
On a more serious note, the Football Association is ready to sort flights whenever he gets the text from home.
The England midfielder said Emily Webb, England senior team operations coordinator and PA to Southgate, is ready to get him back as quickly as possible – and with the blessing of the England manager.
“Gareth understands how important family is to me, and he’s the same as well,” Delph said.
“We’ve spoken about it a lot. I think he was away at an England camp and he had to fly back to see the birth of his child, he got there 10 minutes before – so hopefully I can do the same.”
Delph appears to have a close relationship with Southgate, despite only making his first England appearance under him earlier this month.
“I’ve been selected in every squad this season,” the Manchester City midfielder said. “I’ve just had niggles and wasn’t able to stay.
“I’ve been speaking to the lads we’ve got at City, I spoke to Gareth often, so I’ve been well aware of what’s been going on and what’s been said in camp.
“So coming into this camp, it’s not like I’m a fish out of water. I’m well aware of what the standards are and what Gareth wants from his players.”
— England (@England) June 16, 2018
Harry Kane epitomises everything Southgate wants from his team, so it was little surprise to see the striker handed the captain’s armband for Russia.
“No, nothing changes,” Delph said of the striker. “I think, with H, he’s always been a captain – whether he had the armband or not.
“Him getting the armband has not changed him one little bit: he still never passes, he still shoots at every opportunity.
“But he’s a great guy, a good leader, and a very talented player. An absolute goalscorer and he’s a breath of fresh air to be around.”
Now comes the small matter of leading England to success in Russia – and ideally a winning start against Tunisia.
“We won’t be able to roll them over,” Delph added. “I likened them to Manchester City in terms of how they like to try and play football and move the ball around fast.
“We won’t be able to just roll them over, they’re an in-form team.
“They are very confident, very comfortable on the ball, so we will have to be on our toes and implement our game plan spot on to get the win.”
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