England boss Gareth Southgate faces a selection headache after a further three players withdrew from the Three Lions squad for World Cup warm-up clashes against Germany and Brazil.
Manchester City duo Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson became the latest players to pull out, making it six in total following the withdrawals of Tottenham trio Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Dele Alli.
Southgate’s response to the latest setback was to call up Burnley midfielder Jack Cork, who has played every minute of the Premier League season following an £8m switch from Swansea in July.
Cork was selected ahead of Watford’s Tom Cleverley, who had been placed on standby, and joins West Brom midfielder Jake Livermore and Everton centre-half Michael Keane in being added to the original squad.
The picking of Cork also maintains Southgate’s policy of omitting under-performing players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge, Chris Smalling and Jermain Defoe, who he criticised when explaining their initial exclusions from the party.
There was some good news for Southgate yesterday in the form of Chelsea defender Gary Cahill being fit enough to join the squad at St George’s Park as preparations for Friday’s tussle with world champions Germany continue.
Cork joins Livermore, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young as England’s midfield options.
“I’m really, really happy,” said former England Under-21 star Cork. “Four or five of the lads in the Burnley squad probably could have got in at the same time as me, so I feel lucky that I’ve been given the chance.”