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Thursday 19 October 2017

Smalling injury blow

Chris Smalling. Pic: PA
Chris Smalling. Pic: PA

Chris Smalling has been forced out of the England squad through injury, leading Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson to receive his first call-up.

Gareth Southgate was already facing a defensive headache for tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania as Gary Cahill, the skipper in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat in Germany, was suspended and Phil Jones withdrew through injury on the eve of the friendly.

The Manchester United defender sustained a toe injury in what appeared to be a training ground duel with team-mate Smalling, who left the squad with fitness problems of his own.

The centre-back has returned to Manchester for treatment on the unspecified issue, with Southgate turning to uncapped Middlesbrough defender Gibson.

The 24-year-old was a regular for the England Under-21s during Southgate's reign and has been linked with a variety of clubs having impressed during Boro's Premier League campaign.

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