Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were forced into isolation on the eve of the final group match against the Czech Republic after being deemed close contacts of Billy Gilmour when the Scotland international tested positive for Covid-19.
Having travelled to Wembley separately from the rest of the squad, their isolation period only came to an end at midnight. In the meantime they have been forced to train in their rooms and on a different pitch from their team-mates, only able to join team meetings via Zoom.
Yet to appear in the tournament, left-back Chilwell will almost certainly not start against Germany at Wembley tonight, but his Chelsea team-mate Mount has become a key figure for club and country in the last 12 months, playing an important role somewhere between orthodox central midfielder and No 10 in the first two matches of the tournament and also taking set-pieces.
Southgate was giving no clues as to his thinking last night.
“It’s really complicated because there’s the physical periodisation you would want for a game like this and then there’s the tactical training,” he pointed out. “In meetings they’ve had to dial in on Zoom so the whole experience for them, including travelling down, is very, very difficult but they’re young players who I think can get on with things pretty well.
“There’s a lot wrapped up in that (selection) call.”
What further muddies the water is it is not entirely clear how England will play. They used a 4-2-3-1 formation winning their group with an unbeaten record but last season Southgate showed a fondness in big games for the 3-4-3 shape Germany prefer. Using that would change Mount’s role if he played.
Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson both made first appearances of a tournament they came into injured last week, and have thereby given Southgate the option of using their leadership and experience. The mere fact he included both in the squad despite their problems shows he would like to use it, but Tyrone Mings and Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips have been two of England’s best performers in their preferred positions.