Euro 2024: England’s Shaw thought injury would end tournament

Luke Shaw has admitted he feared his tournament was over without kicking a ball after suffering a setback in training but said he is now ready to start England’s Euro 2024 semifinal against the Netherlands.

The Manchester United defender was a major fitness doubt heading into the finals having not played for club or country since February due to a hamstring problem.

After originally hoping to be back for the latter part of the group stage, Shaw then suffered an injury scare to miss the round-of-16 extra-time win over Slovakia.

But the 28-year-old overcame the problem to make his first appearance in Saturday’s quarterfinal victory over Switzerland as a 78th-minute substitute.

Gareth Southgate’s side face the Dutch in Dortmund on Wednesday and when asked if he was fit to start that game, Shaw said: “Yeah of course, I think I am but obviously that’s Gareth’s decision. But I feel fit and ready to go.

“The last four months has been really tough. Obviously at the start I was expected to come back a lot sooner but I went through a few setbacks to be honest.

“I’m here now, it was really nice to get on the other night. I’ve been itching to get some minutes. It’s been a while but I was really pleased to be able to get some minutes and hopefully get some more in the next game.”

Pushed on whether his fitness scare at England’s training base made him think his tournament participation was at risk, Shaw said: “Yeah, I think so. I think purely because of what I’d been through. I worked so hard to get to that place where I was at and then for something like that to happen, I was of course worried.

“But I had a scan and it wasn’t too bad so it was only a minor one. I knew there was still an opportunity to come back and play later on in the tournament.

“It was just in training. I actually overstretched to be honest. It was only minor and I’m here now.”

Shaw also defended Southgate against criticism of the team’s conservative style. England have now reached a third semifinal from their last four major tournaments but Southgate had beer cups thrown at him by England fans after one group game and the team have been booed the field off on multiple occasions during the tournament.

“To be honest, I don’t really understand the criticism,” Shaw — who was something of a surprise inclusion in Southgate’s 26-man squad given his lengthy absence through injury — said on Monday.

“I think what he’s done for the country, for us as players as well. I think he’s really taken us to the next level.

“I think no manager has really been as successful as him as what he’s done recently.

“It’s now another semifinal, and for me and us as players we love him. I think he’s really good. He’s exactly what we need. For us, he always puts the players first and for that we’re able to go out on the pitch and try to be at our best.

“I think, for me, personally, I’ve got a lot to thank him for, because he showed a lot of faith and trust in picking me when he didn’t have to. For that, I’ll always be thankful.

“But for me now, I need to repay the faith that that he’s shown in me.”