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Gibson replaces injured Smalling in England squad

Gibson has come in for Smalling. Credit: 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 Sunday'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 on Friday 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.

Southgate had not been planning to call up any reinforcements for Sunday despite the absence of Cahill and Jones, but Smalling's setback has forced his hand.

"We'll just assess over the next 24 hours if we have picked up any other knocks," the England boss said in Dortmund.

"I am not aware of anything significant at the moment so if that is the case we wouldn't."


Koscielny demands Arsenal players take responsibility

Laurent Koscielny says the players as well as boss Arsene Wenger must accept responsibility Credit: PA

Laurent Koscielny has demanded Arsenal's players take the heat off manager Arsene Wenger.

Six defeats in their last nine matches have seen the Gunners knocked out of the Champions League and drift out of the top four in the Premier League.

Wenger's future as manager has been the subject of increasingly keen scrutiny as he approaches the end of his contract in the summer.

After almost 21 years in charge, Wenger has yet to announce whether he will stay at the club beyond this season, although he teased at the weekend that he has reached a decision and will soon declare his intentions.

France defender Koscielny says the players must step up their performances as they look to ease the strain on their under-pressure boss.

He's someone who's been very important in my career.

It's him who gave me my chance at Arsenal, who fashioned me as a player and as a man.

We're in a complicated situation but it's not only his responsibility.

It's us, on the pitch, who have to do more.

I feel good, I know the club and the people who work there perfectly. I appreciate my life in London, and so do my family.

At the moment, I've got no reason to want to leave. I've got a long contract, and I'm happy where I am.

– Laurent Koscielny

Lallana: Dele Alli can be special player for England

Adam Lallana is impressed by Dele Alli's bravery in possession Credit: PA

Adam Lallana feels Dele Alli can be a "special" player for England, provided he is given time to fulfil his promise.

Lallana and Alli were pushed up as supporting attackers in Wednesday's 1-0 friendly loss in Germany, turning in eye-catching performances in Gareth Southgate's re-jigged 3-4-2-1 system.

Both players had wonderful chances to put the visitors ahead before half-time in Dortmund, Lallana hitting the post after a fine solo run and the Tottenham man denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen after going clear in the box.

Although he was frustrated not to do better on that occasion, Alli's all-round performance, full of neat touches and tricks, was hugely promising for a player still three weeks shy of his 21st birthday.

And Lallana feels it was a sign of things to come if Alli is allowed to develop.

Dele is special. I love the way he goes about his business: no fear, he's brave.

That's what makes him 'him'. All players have different attitudes that make them what they are and that's why he is unique and a special talent.

But people still need to be patient with him. He is still a young boy and performing how he does is way above his years. He is not even 21 yet.

It is important that we don't get carried away.

– Adam Lallana


Man Utd exit drove Keane toward England debut

Michael Keane made his debut playing in a three-man central defence for England Credit: PA

Burnley defender Michael Keane says playing for England was always his dream - even when he was turning out for the Republic of Ireland at youth level.

Keane has been a regular around the Three Lions squad since Gareth Southgate took over as manager and earned his first cap in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Germany in Dortmund.

As well as ending the Clarets' 43-year wait to see an outfield player capped, it was the first step to a successful international career for the highly-rated Manchester United graduate.

Although born in Stockport, Keane was eligible for the Irish side through his father and wore green at Under-17 and Under-19 level, only to pledge for England in 2012.

And Keane has admitted he had something to prove after leaving Old Trafford.

I always wanted to play for England but when I was younger I was not at the level required so I thought it best to go and get some experience at international level. That is what I did.

When I got a call saying they wanted me I did not think twice. I was thankful to Ireland to play but England was my country. There was never any doubt.

My dad was born in Ireland but moved to England when he was nine, he's over the moon.

I have been striving to get here for the last year or two having come through the Under-21s so to finally do it, on a stage like this, against the world champions is a dream come true.

I felt comfortable. There were a few nerves and butterflies as you would expect but it helped me playing alongside experienced players. They were talking through me the game the whole time.

I always thought if I am playing well in the Premier League I would have a chance. I was always confident in my ability... I always thought I would make it at United.

A few changes in manager did not help and when I left I felt I had a point to prove and it made me work that bit harder. I feel maybe I have proved it.

– Michael Keane
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