Why is Jadon Sancho stuck on the sidelines? The £80m Manchester United target purred in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund, but can’t get a game for England two years after bursting on to the international scene against the Czechs
- Jadon Sancho has yet to feature for England at Euro 2020 so far this summer
- The winger excelled for Borussia Dortmund and is wanted by Manchester United
- Sancho impressed v Czech Republic in 2019 but has fallen down pecking order
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
It is the opposition on Tuesday night that reminds you how it used to be for Jadon Sancho and how it is now.
The last time the Czech Republic came to town on March 22, 2019, there was a buzz around the England camp, the kind great anticipation brings.
Gareth Southgate had been coy in the build-up, saying he would ‘not hesitate’ to start Sancho in that critical Euro 2020 qualifier.
Despite his ability, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho hasn’t played for England at Euro 2020
Within 24 minutes, Sancho had shown a sell-out crowd why his manager was so sure. Here he was, three days before turning 19, zipping up and down the right flank. His pace and poise created the first goal for Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick and Wembley hummed with excitement.
Sancho’s night continued to be dramatic, as he was denied a deserved goal by a desperate block from Filip Novak, and it finished with a scampering dash to tee up a chance for Callum Hudson-Odoi that led to England’s fifth and final goal.
Leaving Wembley — with England careering towards qualification — it felt very much as if he had made clear his ambitions to be involved in the tournament itself. Sancho played in seven of the next eight games, including a sparkling display against Kosovo in Southampton, where he scored twice.
Sancho excelled against Czech Republic in 2019 but he is likely to be on the bench this time
It pays to remind yourself of the situation Sancho was in. Once again, the Czech Republic are coming to town, but the now 21-year-old won’t be given licence to run at them.
Barring an unforeseen turn of events in this Covid-altered world — like the one that required Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell to self-isolate — he will be among the substitutes.
All this seems incongruous. Sancho is Manchester United’s prime target once again for this transfer window and Borussia Dortmund, the club who have superbly nurtured his career, are ready to sell him for a fee north of £80million. The expectation is that he will end up at Old Trafford.
Such a fee would make him one of the most expensive Englishmen of all time, so how can someone who is poised to carry that tag not find himself in an England team who have lacked flamboyance and wit, particularly against Scotland?
Yes, he’s young but over the course of the last two seasons, Sancho has accumulated 1,033 minutes in the Champions League — Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and John Stones are all short of that figure, while only Raheem Sterling (12) and Phil Foden (10) have bettered his total of goals plus assists (nine).
Sancho has frequently impressed for Dortmund and is again wanted by Manchester United
You cannot say he lacks experience or quality for the highest level. But does he have the manager’s trust?
Sancho blotted his copybook last October when he broke Covid-19 rules, attending a birthday party with Ben Chilwell for Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham that had more than six guests, and Southgate took a dim view of the transgression.
Asked over the weekend if Sancho would feature against the Czech Republic, Southgate played things straight when he said: ‘We’ve got some explosive options and a lot of them are young players experiencing a big tournament for the first time.
‘So as a coaching staff, we are realistic about our expectations of them as individuals. Jadon is in that mix. He’s trained well the last few days and, of course, we have got those options and those decisions to make.’
There is no expectation, though, from Sancho that he will suddenly be propelled into the fray.
Those who know him say he has done his best to maintain his usual bubbly disposition but privately the lack of minutes and opportunity is gnawing away at him.
The winger was left out of the squad against Croatia and was an unused substitute v Scotland
He was particularly aggrieved about being omitted from the 23 for the opening fixture against Croatia — Southgate, in fairness, had warned a situation like this would emerge with 26 men in the camp — and it was undoubtedly dispiriting for him to remain an unused substitute on Friday against Scotland.
As Peter Crouch noted in his column in these pages yesterday, the fortunes of a team and a player can change with one kick in a tournament, so Sancho should not resign himself to remaining on the periphery throughout.
This has been a season like no other for England, who have played 15 times since their first match in Iceland last September. However, in 1,350 minutes of international football, Sancho has featured in just 276.
It is impossible to escape the feeling, as familiar opponents come into view, that his progress at this level has been Czeched.
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