Matthijs de Ligt to miss the Netherlands’ Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine

Frank de Boer has confirmed Matthijs de Ligt will miss the Netherlands’ Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine on Sunday.

The Juventus defender was absent from his side’s final warm-up game against Georgia after picking up a groin injury.

He had remained optimistic about his chances of being fit for the clash with Ukraine on Sunday, but head coach De Boer has now confirmed he will not be risked for his side’s opening game of this summer’s delayed tournament.

“Hopefully the tournament will last a long time for us and then we will really need him,” he told reporters (via NOS). “If it was the final, we would probably have drafted him, but now we are not going to take any unnecessary risks.”

Only a few days ago did De Ligt claim he could be fit for the clash, while De Boer’s suggestion that he may have risked the defender if more were riding on the game made it sound like he’s not far away from full fitness.

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That being said, the Dutch coach’s comment that he hopes the tournament lasts a long time so De Ligt can feature suggests the knock may be worse than first feared.

Matthijs de Ligt will miss his side's opening game of Euro 2020Matthijs de Ligt will miss his side's opening game of Euro 2020

Matthijs de Ligt will miss his side’s opening game of Euro 2020 / BSR Agency/Getty Images

De Boer will naturally be eager to welcome the Juventus man back into the fold as soon as possible with group games coming thick and fast over the next few weeks.

The Netherlands have just four days of rest after their game against Ukraine before their second outing of the competition against Austria on Thursday, before playing their final game of Group C against North Macedonia the following Monday.

It remains to be seen whether De Ligt will be fit for either of the clashes with Austria or North Macedonia, though for now he will definitely miss his side’s Euro 2020 opener.

The Scotland XI that should start against Czech Republic in Euro 2020 opener

It’s incredible to think of the amount of Scotland fans who’ve never experienced the joy of seeing their side play at a major international tournament – when we say ‘joy’ we obviously mean pain, misery and disappointment – much like England, then.

Steve Clarke’s side qualified for Euro 2020 via the play-offs courtesy of David Marshall’s penalty save in the shootout against Serbia, and qualification from Group D is by no means an impossibility.

If the Scots are to make it through to the knockout rounds, a good start to their campaign is a must and their clash against the Czech Republic on Monday represents a golden opportunity to pick up some points.

It’s been 23 years in the waiting, but here’s the Scotland lineup that could start at a major international tournament…

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Kieran Tierney will move into centre-backKieran Tierney will move into centre-back

Kieran Tierney will move into centre-back / Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

David Marshall (GK) – It would be criminal for Marshall not to start really after his shootout heroics against Serbia. Even at the grand old age of 36 he’s capable of producing match-winning performances and will be key to his side’s chances.

Jack Hendry (CB) –
Has done brilliantly to work his way back into contention and could be rewarded with a start after his fine season in Belgium.

Grant Hanley (CB) – Another who hasn’t been a fixture in the national team over the past couple of years. Looked solid against Luxembourg last time out and should have done enough to book his starting place.

Kieran Tierney (CB) – Clarke had to do something to incorporate both Kieran Tierney and Andy Robertson, and the solution seems to be the Arsenal man moving inside to play on the left of a back three.

Andy Robertson will start at left wing-backAndy Robertson will start at left wing-back

Andy Robertson will start at left wing-back / Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Stephen O’Donnell (RWB) – Started last time out against Luxembourg in what looked to be close to Scotland’s strongest starting XI. Clarke will be hoping the Motherwell man can give his team some balance by mirroring the bombarding runs of Robertson on the opposite flank.

Scott McTominay (CM) – Has filled in a centre-back for his country on occasions but looks much more effective in the centre of the field where he can drive his team forward.

John McGinn (CM) – None of Scotland’s forward options are what you would call prolific and so the Aston Villa man will be expected to support that attack and try to pick up any loose balls around the edge of the box.

Callum McGregor (CM) – Billy Gilmour could be given the nod but for a first game at a major tournament, you’d fancy Clarke to opt for a more experienced head.

Andy Robertson (LWB) – It goes without saying how key Robertson will be to his side’s chances of progressing. Unquestionably one of the best left-backs in Europe, if not the best.

Che Adams is expected to start up top with Lyndon DykesChe Adams is expected to start up top with Lyndon Dykes

Che Adams is expected to start up top with Lyndon Dykes / Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Lyndon Dykes (ST) – Did well to notch double figures last season in a poor Queens Park Rangers team and has proven to be a handful for defenders even when he’s not scoring.

Che Adams (ST) – So often the understudy at club level but for Scotland he’s likely to be their biggest goal threat. Will need to be clinical when chances do come his way.

Karen Bardsley withdraws from Team GB Olympic squad through injury

OL Reign goalkeeper Karen Bardsley has been forced to withdraw from the Great Britain squad selected for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as a result of a hamstring injury.

Bardsley joined Reign on loan from Manchester City for the 2021 NWSL season, having previously lost her place at City thanks to prior injury problems and the emergence of Ellie Roebuck.

The 36-year-old’s inclusion in the GB squad chosen by interim England manager Hege Riise did come as a surprise, but she brought masses of tournament experience to the group and was a veteran of the 2012 Olympics on home soil alongside a handful of others.

However, a hamstring injury now denies Bardsley, who was born and raised in the United States but has over 80 senior England caps, the chance to go to a second Olympic tournament.

Karen BardsleyKaren Bardsley

Bardsley previously represented GB at the 2012 games / Joern Pollex/Getty Images

Bardsley is likely to be replaced in the 18-player GB squad by Everton goalkeeper Sandy MacIver, who was named on the reserve list when the main squad was announced.

The reserve players train and travel with the squad and can be subbed into the main group at any time during the tournament in the event of injury to one of the 18.

If MacIver is promoted to the full squad, as expected, she will need to be replaced on the reserve list. Her place will mostly likely to go to Chelsea’s Carly Telford, who has been at an England training camp this month and was on Riise’s original 35-player preliminary list.

Birmingham’s Hannah Hampton and emerging Manchester United youngster Emily Ramsey were the other goalkeepers at that five-day camp. Neither was on the original preliminary list, although working directly with Riise could put either of them, especially Hampton, in contention.

Sandy MacIverSandy MacIver

Sandy MacIver is likely to step up from the reserve list / Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The Olympic tournament is due to kick off on 21 July, with GB’s first game against Chile that day. They will then face Japan and Canada on 24 July and 27 July respectively and will hope to go further than the quarter-final exit they managed nine years ago in search of a medal.

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David Moyes signs new three-year deal at West Ham

David Moyes has committed his future to West Ham after signing a new three-year deal at the club.

Negotiations over a new contract for the Scotsman have been ongoing for some time, though co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold were said to be keen assess the club’s finances before tabling an official offer.

Everton’s rumoured interest in their former boss following Carlo Ancelotti’s departure raised questions marks over whether Moyes could be on his way out the club, but any speculation has now been put to bed with the announcement that he’s signed fresh terms.

West Ham took to their official website to announce the news, expressing their delight at securing the future of their manager before lauding his success since returning to the club.

“West Ham United is delighted to announce that manager David Moyes has signed a new three-year contract with the club,” the statement read.

“Since returning to east London in December 2019, Moyes has made a hugely positive impact and his inclusive approach proved a perfect fit for the football club.

“And that has been accomplished in the most testing circumstances possible, with the COVID pandemic causing a three-month mid-season break and meaning all but two matches since March 2020 have been played without the Claret and Blue Army present.

“The 58-year-old – who is closing in on 100 matches in charge at London Stadium and 1,000 competitive games as a manager – is now looking forward to building on the foundations put in place by all at the club and continuing to develop his exciting, hungry and ambitious squad.”

Moyes himself took the opportunity to thank the board for their continued support before outlining his plans for the future.

David Moyes is staying at West HamDavid Moyes is staying at West Ham

David Moyes is staying at West Ham / Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

“I am delighted to have committed my future to West Ham United,” he said. “This is where I want to be and I’m happy. I’m excited to be given this opportunity to build on what we all have already achieved here. The owners and I are fully aligned with how we want to keep developing and improving the football club.

“The board and everyone at the club have been fantastic to work with, giving me great support and I feel that we are all united in what we want to achieve in the coming years and how we might be able to achieve those things.”

Gareth Southgate safe in his job regardless of England’s performance at Euro 2020

England manager Gareth Southgate is expected to be secure in his job no matter how the Three Lions perform at Euro 2020 this summer and is unlikely to be sacked even if his team flops hard and exits the tournament disappointingly early.

England are among the early favourites to win Euro 2020 and are further boosted by the fact that may only have to play one game away from Wembley – and a maximum of two – if they were to get all the way to the final, largely giving it the feel of a home tournament.

Southgate took England to the semi-finals of the last World Cup, his first summer tournament in charge, and later guided the team to the 2019 UEFA Nations League finals.

England could be in for a tough route through the Euro 2020 knockout stages because winning Group D means facing either France, Portugal or Germany in the last 16, but failing to at least get to another semi-final would likely be perceived by fans as a step backwards.

Gareth SouthgateGareth Southgate

Southgate led England to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

However, the Daily Telegraph writes that Southgate has delighted the FA with the work he has done so far and the general progress he has overseen since being appointed in 2016 and is in no danger of losing his job, even if Euro 2020 becomes an unexpected disaster for England.

Whether he would choose to walk away of his own accord in that scenario is another matter, but there wouldn’t be pressure from his bosses within the FA hierarchy.

Southgate’s current contract as England boss still covers the next tournament cycle after this one and runs until December 2022 after the World Cup in Qatar.

“Of course, my players and I will be judged on winning matches. Only one team can win the Euros. We have never done it before and we are desperate to do it for the first time. Believe me,” he said in an open letter to the nation with The Players’ Tribune.

“But, the reality is that the result is just a small part of it. When England play, there’s much more at stake than that. It’s about how we conduct ourselves on and off the pitch, how we bring people together, how we inspire and unite, how we create memories that last beyond the 90 minutes. That last beyond the summer. That last forever.”

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!