Declan Rice withdraws from England squad with flu in blow for Gareth S…

Gareth Southgate has suffered a major blow ahead of England’s final World Cup qualifiers after Declan Rice was forced to pull out of the squad with flu.

And England medics are monitoring the condition of Jack Grealish, who informed staff that he felt unwell on Wednesday despite training.

As reported by Telegraph Sport, Rice complained of feeling unwell at the start of the week and the midfielder was unable to take part in any training as his condition worsened.

Rice returned a negative test for coronavirus, but he has been forced to return home to bed and will miss the games against Albania at Wembley on Friday night and San Marino next week.

Losing Rice is a serious blow for Southgate ahead of the Albania game, which midfielder Mason Mount will also miss after undergoing surgery to remove four wisdom teeth – preventing the Chelsea star from meeting up with the England squad up to this point. Mount could also miss the San Marino match.

Manchester United left-back Shaw is a doubt for Friday night and is however to meet up with the squad, as he follows concussion protocols after a collision with Rodri during last Saturday’s derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford.

Grealish will need to be assessed on Thursday to make sure his condition does not deteriorate and England are also cautious of taking any chances over the possibility of a bug sweeping by the camp.

Rice has been one of the best performers in the Premier League for West Ham United this season and has become a meaningful player for Southgate and England.

Southgate has Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson to choose from to replace Rice in the holding midfield position next to the returning Kalvin Phillips. Rice played on his own as a lone holder against Hungary in England’s last match, but the more attacking midfield line-up did not work.

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