The Race to Face Croatia: Which injured England stars could make the cut?

Rashford, Kane and Grealish are all struggling, but the return of Sancho and Henderson could boost the Three Lions.

With the Euros just under two months away, it is not form but injury concerns which appear to be England manager Gareth Southgate's greatest worry.

The lack of a proper season and a hectic schedule has taken its toll for some.

Harry Kane limping off in the final minutes of Spurs' match against Everton last week struck fear into the heart of many an England fan.

And as the window for rehabilitation grows ever shorter, Planet Sport takes a look at the players Southgate is sweating on ahead of the June 13 opener.

Goalkeepers

Jordan Pickford (8/15 to start - via PaddyPower)

After sustaining an abdominal injury in Everton's match against Burnley in March, Pickford made his return to the Premier League last week in a 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.

During his time out, Pickford's starting spot came under threat from the ever-improving Dean Henderson. However, favoured by Gareth Southgate following his World Cup heroics against Colombia in 2018, Pickford has timed his return to perfection.

Everton's 1-0 win against Arsenal this weekend has further strengthened Pickford's grip on the England No. 1 spot and he seems nailed on to start between the sticks against Croatia.

Nick Pope (5/2 to start)

Pope missed two games with a shoulder injury but returned this weekend for Burnley's 4-0 dismantling of Wolves.

Pope seemed to be Southgate's go-to keeper in the absence of Jordan Pickford, starting in all three of England's recent World Cup qualifiers.

But after being culpable for Poland's equaliser in the final of the three qualifiers, Pope's role in the England squad has been under question.

His injury has only further dampened his chances of starting for England. And, with Dean Henderson enjoying an eyecatching spell at Manchester United, Pope might found himself as third choice come June.

Defenders

Joe Gomez (5/1 to start - via PaddyPower)

Thankfully for the England team, most defenders seem fit and have been consistent performers for their clubs this season.

That has left Joe Gomez as something of a forgotten man.

Gomez suffered a serious knee injury while training with the England squad in November. The subsequent surgery has seen him miss the remainder of Liverpool's Premier League campaign.

But with the young defender recently posting an update of him running and working in the gym, his long road to recovery seems to be nearing a conclusion.

Before his injury, Gomez made 11 senior appearances for the Three Lions. Should he return to full fitness in time, Gomez, a known favourite of Southgate, could force his way back into the England reckoning.

Midfielders

Jordan Henderson (2/1 to start - via PaddyPower)

Another player on the injury list of both Liverpool and England. The Liverpool captain was forced off during the Merseyside derby defeat in February and has since undergone surgery.

Henderson played a pivotal role in England's 2018 World Cup success and without injury would undoubtedly be one of the first names on the team sheet.

But with a lack of first team minutes under his belt, Henderson's injury has cast doubts on his inclusion not only in the team but the squad.

Southgate has admitted Henderson faces a race to become fit, saying: "We know it's going to be close to the end of the season and we will just have to see how it goes.

"He will give himself every chance of being available. And, of course, we also know he is likely to be a bit short of match minutes in high-level games."

Jack Grealish (6/4 to start)

After impressing in the UEFA Nations League, many England fans were looking towards Grealish to supply the flair and skill in the upcoming Euros.

But after suffering a shin injury during training in February, Grealish's inclusion in the England squad has been growing more and more doubtful.

Having missed Aston Villa's 2-2 draw with West Brom this weekend, Grealish has now been absent for 12 consecutive games, causing many to speculate his injury was worse than initially feared.

Villa boss Dean Smith has refused to put a timeline on Grealish's recovery, but he did claim that the enigmatic midfielder would be fit for the summer - fingers crossed.

Forwards

Harry Kane (1/33 to start - via PaddyPower)

After limping off in the final minutes against Everton last weekend, Kane seems to be showing signs of fatigue and tiredness.

On the bright side, Kane shrugged off injury fears to start Tottenham's Carabao Cup final against Manchester City. And, despite his side losing 1-0, many will have been pleased to see him finish the game unscathed.

With Tottenham still fighting for a place in the top four of the Premier League, it's highly unlikely that Kane will take his foot off the gas. All we can do as England fans is avert our eyes and hope for the best.

Marcus Rashford (6/5 to start)

Another player who has shown signs of tiredness. After starting in Manchester United's weekend fixture against Leeds UnitedRashford maintained his record of appearing in each of United's fixtures this season.

But despite not suffering an injury, Rashford has often looked visibly tired during games.

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After contributing hugely to Manchester United's season, Rashford will be keen to continue his consistency and help his club's pursuit of silverware in the Europa League.

Rashford has admitted that he is still recovering from a major back injury that he suffered last season that kept him sidelined for over two months.

While working hard on the pitch, Rashford has also been tackling the government over their school meal policies this year. If anyone deserves a break in the lead up to the summer, it's this guy.

Jadon Sancho (12/5 to start)

Sancho returned to Borussia Dortmund's starting line-up this week, completing 60 minutes in their 2-0 victory over Wolfsburg.

Sancho suffered a thigh injury in early March, forcing him to miss Dortmund's vital clash against Manchester City in the Champions League.

But after returning to Bundesliga action in recent weeks, the 21-year-old winger seems to have timed his recovery to perfection.

Barring another injury, Sancho's accumulation of match time in the next few weeks will put him in pole position for a starting spot in England's match against Croatia.

His competition in the England set-up will come from Rashford and Grealish. Perhaps the deciding factor for Southgate could be who ends the season in the best shape.

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