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Tottenham and Liverpool success hits England’s Nations League plans

Gareth Southgate faces conducting the bulk of England’s preparations for June’s Nations League finals without up to nine players after Liverpool and Tottenham secured unlikely passage to the Champions League final.

The national manager will have to wait until the evening of Sunday 2 June to welcome to St George’s Park the hefty contingent involved in the showpiece at Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano. That will be almost two weeks after the first members of the squad gather, with arrivals staggered according to when players’ club campaigns finish.

Those involved in Madrid would not be available to train with their international teammates until the following day at the very earliest, subject to assessments being made by medical and technical staff.

Southgate, who names his squad for the two-game tournament in Portugal next Thursday, has expressed concerns over how players involved in an emotionally and physically draining Champions League final would be able to cope with England’s semi-final against the Netherlands five days later in Guimarães.

Quick guide

Champions League: finalists from the same country

24 May 2000: Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia The first intra-national European Cup final in the competitions’s 45-year history acted as the stage for Steve McManaman to write his name into Champions League folklore. The Englishman secured victory for Real in Paris with a stunning 67th-minute volley, with Fernando Morientes and Raúl scoring the others.

28 May 2003: Juventus 0-0 Milan (Milan won 3-2 on pens) Dripping in Italian defensive energy, 120 minutes of tough tackling and swinging elbows at Old Trafford yielded just eight shots on target and a whopping 57 fouls. The goalkeepers remained on top in the shootout with five of the first nine efforts saved before Andriy Shevchenko sealed Milan’s sixth European Cup.

21 May 2008: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (United won 6-5 on pens) Didier Drogba has spoken of his uneasiness at seeing Moscow adorned in United red before the final and that anxiety was vindicated on a pulsating night that saw Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard trade goals before Drogba was sent off in extra-time. John Terry then slipped at the crucial moment.

25 May 2013: Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich Twelve months is an eternity in football and no one knows that better than Arjen Robben. In the 2012 final Robben was the scapegoat in defeat to Chelsea. A year later he cemented himself as a Bayern legend, scoring the last-minute winner after Ilkay Gündogan and Mario Mandzukic each struck in the second half at Wembley.

24 May 2014: Real Madrid 4-1 Atlético Madrid (aet) At 90 minutes Atlético looked to have triumphed against the odds to win a historic double. On 94 minutes Sergio Ramos wheeled away in celebration of a heartbreaking equaliser. By the time 120 minutes had elapsed in Lisbon Real had run riot en route to La Decima.

28 May 2016: Real Madrid 1-1 Atlético Madrid (Real won 5-3 on pens) If Cristiano Ronaldo was still searching for a crowning moment as king of Madrid then the fifth and final penalty in this shootout in Milan confirmed his coronation. Sergio Ramos and Yannick Carrasco scored in normal time before Juanfran hit the post with his spot-kick setting up Ronaldo’s vintage moment. Benjy Nurick

Photograph: Sergio Perez/X00213
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The cluttered schedule will deny Southgate Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier and Dele Alli in the buildup to the finals in Portugal. The Spurs duo Harry Kane and Harry Winks, who are recovering from ankle ligament and groin injuries respectively, hope to be available for the final against Liverpool and, as a result, will also be in contention to join up with the national squad. “Rehab is going well,” said Kane. “I started straight-line running this week and I have to start training even harder to prove myself to the gaffer.”

Southgate expects players whose seasons end this weekend with the culmination of the Premier League to link up at the national training centre in the week commencing 20 May. The contingent from Manchester City would be granted time after the FA Cup final, and those involved in European finals – Arsenal and Chelsea will attempt on Thursday night to secure places in the Europa League final – last to join the group. The Europa League final is in Baku on 29 May.

Although the national manager will welcome English clubs’ progress into the latter stages of Europe’s elite competition, the disruption to his preparations has realised his worst fears. “Let’s say if two of our teams made it to the Champions League final, then we wouldn’t see them [in training] at best until the Monday before we play on the Thursday,” he said in March. “We’ve been in [this] semi-final, qualified six months ago and [are thinking] what a great opportunity to win something, and then you don’t actually get the team together. And with the emotion of that game [Champions League final], can those players even realistically play on the Thursday night for us.

“We’ll have to work out all of that as that goes on. But, fundamentally, our preparation will be here [in England], broken up with breaks at home to give them space that they would all need, bar the players that will play to the very end.”

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