Kieran Trippier doubtful for Slovakia tie, Southgate may rely on Aston Villa player

England v Slovenia - EURO 2024
England v Slovenia - EURO 2024 / Anadolu/GettyImages

England's preparations for their Euro 2024 last-16 tie against Slovakia have been disrupted by the uncertainty surrounding Kieran Trippier's fitness. The Newcastle defender, who has started all three of England's matches in the tournament, missed training again on Friday due to a lingering calf injury that affected the end of his domestic season.

If Trippier is unable to prove his fitness before Sunday's game in Gelsenkirchen, England manager Gareth Southgate is expected to turn to Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa as a makeshift left-back. This decision comes despite the availability of Liverpool's Joe Gomez, who has experience playing in the left-back position. England remains hopeful that Trippier will be fit to start the match, but much will depend on his condition in the next 24 hours.

Trippier's absence from training on both Tuesday and Friday has raised concerns, as he has been a crucial part of England's defence, which has conceded only once in three games and allowed fewer expected goals against than any other side in the tournament. His injury has forced Southgate to consider alternative options, with Ezri Konsa being prepared to step in if needed.

Konsa, primarily a centre-back, has had an impressive season with Aston Villa, helping them secure a fourth-place finish in the Premier League and Champions League qualification. Despite his lack of experience as a left-back, Konsa's versatility and defensive capabilities make him a viable option for Southgate.

Ezri Konsa
England Training Session & Media Activity - UEFA EURO 2024 / Richard Pelham/GettyImages

The decision to potentially start Konsa comes as Southgate faces a challenging situation with Luke Shaw, the only recognised left-back in the squad, still recovering from a hamstring injury sustained in February. Bukayo Saka, who has been suggested as a potential left-back by pundits, dismissed the idea, emphasising his preference to play in his natural position on the right wing.

If Trippier is deemed fit to play, the sole anticipated alteration to the starting XI from the team that drew 0-0 with Slovenia would be Kobbie Mainoo coming in for Conor Gallagher. Should Trippier be unavailable, the likely scenario would see Konsa stepping in as a makeshift left-back.

Luke Shaw, who has been on the road to recovery, hinted at his availability for the next game after England's draw with Slovenia. However, his lack of match fitness remains a concern, and Southgate may opt to introduce him off the bench to gradually build his fitness. Shaw was fit enough to feature on the bench against Slovenia, but he has yet to play a minute of football in Germany.

Southgate's decision to select Shaw, who hasn't played since February, was a gamble, leaving behind Chelsea's Ben Chilwell and Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell. This gamble has yet to pay off, with Shaw only making the matchday squad for one of England's three games so far.

With defensive solidity being a cornerstone of their campaign so far, the potential inclusion of Konsa as a makeshift left-back could be a crucial decision in maintaining their defensive resilience.