John Stones has left the England camp and will return to Manchester City as a precaution after picking up an injury before the friendly with Switzerland on Saturday.
The Manchester City centre-half pulled out of the warm-up before the 2-1 victory at Wembley but trained with the rest of the team on Monday ahead of their second
match of the March international break against Ivory Coast on Tuesday.
Stones went for a scan after training on Monday and was given the all-clear to play in Tuesday’s friendly, but the 27-year-old insists something does not feel right and will miss the fixture and return to his club.
England boss Gareth Southgate still has plenty of centre-back options at his disposal for the visit of the Ivory Coast, with Tyrone Mings and Harry Maguire looking for Wembley starts after sitting on the bench against Switzerland.
Arsenal defender Ben White replaced Stones just before kick-off in that game, while Marc Guehi and Conor Coady also started for the Three Lions.
Stones will also be needed for a crunch Premier League and Champions League run-in with Manchester City, as the fixture list looks to pile up for Pep Guardiola’s men.
City visit Burnley this Saturday before Champions League quarter-final ties against Atletico Madrid encircle a mouth-watering clash with Premier Leaguer rivals Liverpool on April 10, live on Sky Sports.
Stones has only started nine Premier League games for Guardiola’s side this season but has begun the last three top-flight matches for the reigning top-flight champions.
Southgate defends Maguire recall
Southgate, meanwhile, has defended his selection of Stones’ regular centre-back partner Harry Maguire in the England squad for this month’s friendlies, insisting the defender “can play at the highest level”.
The 29-year-old Manchester United captain has come under criticism for his club performances this season, with some questioning whether he deserved a place in the England squad for the matches against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.
Asked whether Maguire is still one of the best England players, Southgate replied: “He has got us to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final so there’s no doubt he’s more than capable of playing at the highest level.
“He was very good for us in the autumn. The club [Manchester United] are in a difficult moment – there could be any number of reasons for that – so that doesn’t mean that players can be poor for a couple of years and then still find their way in, and sometimes it depends on competition for positions.
“We’ve obviously had some forward players out who haven’t been in good form but there’s direct, experienced replacements for those players, so it is a complicated decision.”
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