Nathan Redmond and England Under-21s ready to begin European Championship campaign
- Credit: PA
Norwich City star Nathan Redmond and his England Under-21 team-mates begin their European Championship campaign in the Czech Republic tonight – but have suffered a late defensive injury blow.
U21s manager Gareth Southgate has been forced into a defensive rethink after John Stones was ruled out of England's first two matches with suspected concussion.
One of the Young Lions' key men, the Everton defender was set to start tonight's Group B opener against Portugal (7.45pm kick-off UK time) in Uherske Hradiste.
However Southgate confirmed on the eve of the match that Stones had sustained suspected concussion, ruling him out of the opener and Sunday's clash with Sweden.
'We've just one concern over John Stones, who picked up a head injury so unfortunately it looks like he will miss the game with suspected concussion,' Southgate said.
'It is a great shame for him first and foremost. He has been looking forward to this immensely and he is bitterly disappointed.
'Our first thoughts are to lift his spirits as quickly as possible. In terms of the group, we have a strong mentality.
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'In all positions, we've had players that have moved up to the seniors, so we've had to look at others players during the campaign.
'We've got great competition for places in every area of the field and throughout the competition we've not just relied on picking a first 11.
'I've tried to make changes each time for this sort of reason - you know when you get to the finals anything can happen. We're ready to deal with that, the group is very strong and it's obviously a great opportunity for somebody else.'
Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson looks likely to be the beneficiary of Stones' unfortunate setback, sustained on Tuesday during a closed training session.
England's opening match is being broadcast live on BT Sport.