The midfielder’s absence for the final two qualifiers raises the uncomfortable question of what the Three Lions would do without him in Germany
England have an unfortunate history of their talismen not being fit in time for a major tournament; that was the fate that befell Wayne Rooney ahead of the 2006 World Cup and David Beckham four years earlier, as well as Kevin Keegan and Bryan Robson if you go even further back.
Jude Bellingham is on course to be the Three Lions’ key player as they head to Germany for Euro 2024 in the summer, but a shoulder injury ahead of their final two qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia has raised the difficult question of what Gareth Southgate would do without him at the tournament proper.
Despite his tender age this is not Bellingham’s first fitness concern, with the emerging Real Madrid star undergoing regular treatment on a chronic knee problem. The 20-year-old has often played with strapping on each of his knees over his brief career to date.
In his absence, this international window offers more than just a chance to experiment for England boss Gareth Southgate, as he faces up to the reality of life without his star midfielder.