Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho will not join up with the England squad for this month’s games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark until the Football Association has investigated the trio’s attendance at a party that allegedly breached Covid-19 regulations.
The FA has decided to take precautions and ensure there is no risk to the wider group after footage emerged which appeared to show Abraham, Chilwell and Sancho at a party in London with more than six people – breaking the government’s “rule of six” coronavirus guidelines – on Saturday evening. Abraham has apologised and Chelsea are to remind the striker and Chilwell of their responsibilities.
The players will not be permitted to report for international duty until the FA has gathered further information. The news comes as a blow to Gareth Southgate for the friendly against Wales and the Nations League fixtures against Belgium and Denmark. Southgate, who has also seen Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling withdraw with an injury, will begin his preparations for the games with 27 players after promoting Reece James to the senior squad for the first time.
“England men’s senior squad has assembled at St George’s Park ahead of the forthcoming fixtures against Wales, Belgium and Denmark,” the FA said. “However, as a precaution to understand if there is any risk to the wider group, the arrival of Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho will be delayed. This is to allow time to gather further information of a social gathering that all three players reportedly attended over the weekend.”
The Sun has shared footage which appears to show Abraham and Chilwell and Borussia Dortmund’s Sancho at a party in London. The development comes a month after Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were sent home for breaching coronavirus protocols while with the England squad in Iceland.
The Sun reported the party was organised as a surprise gathering for the Chelsea forward Abraham’s 23rd birthday.
Abraham told the newspaper: “I arrived home to find a small surprise gathering. Though I was totally unaware this was planned, I would like to wholeheartedly apologise for the naivety shown for the organisation and attending of this gathering.
“All I can do now is learn from it, apologise to everyone and ensure it never happens again.”
Dortmund said: “We are in close contact with the English FA and representatives of the national team. We are aware that they are following Covid-19 protocols in line with Uefa. It would not be appropriate for us to add comment at this stage.”
James was moved from the Under-21s to the senior set-up after arriving at St George’s Park. The 20-year-old has impressed since breaking into the Chelsea team last year and has made three appearances this season, scoring a stunning goal in a 3-1 win over Brighton last month.