Gareth Southgate won't risk Carl Jenkinson's fitness against Croatia

Carl Jenkinson 2

The West Ham full-back is unlikely to feature in both legs of the England Under-21s European Championship play-off.

England Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate has has vowed to protect the fitness of full-back Carl Jenkinson ahead of the crucial European Championship play-off tie against Croatia.

The 22-year-old, who is on loan at West Ham from Arsenal, made his first start of the season against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday after missing the past two months with a hamstring injury.

He has returned to Southgate's squad in time to face Croatia, but the manager will be cautious with the young full-back despite the importance of the play-off tie and says he is unlikely to play in both legs of the fixture.

"Sunday was his first 90 minutes since he was out with a hamstring injury," Southgate said. "Not only because of the recovery from the injury but also because of the first 90 minutes he had back means he's still recovering.

"It's one that we'll be quite careful with because I think on the back of an injury, having played his first 90 minutes, he would be unlikely to play two 90 minutes for us physically.

"So we have just got to assess it, really, but I am not putting him under any pressure. It is important he feels comfortable with everything and that he's ready to train.

"I would think he will do some sort of training [on Wednesday] but not fully with the team just yet."

Southgate did receive some positive news regarding his full-backs this week however, as Manchester United's Luke Shaw has been cleared to play after shaking off a dead leg.

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