Mason Greenwood, the Manchester United striker, has apologised for breaking coronavirus protocols while on international duty after being sent home by England manager Gareth Southgate.
Greenwood and Phil Foden, the Manchester City midfielder, were both dropped from the national team set-up for breaking the strict ‘bubble’ regulations at the national team’s camp in Rekjavik.
Reports emerged in the Icelandic press on Monday that, less than 48 hours after making their senior international debuts, the pair had spent time with two women at a hotel. Both players will now miss Tuesday night’s Nations League meeting with Denmark.
The Football Association is investigating the breach, which Southgate described as “very serious” and said the players involved were “naive”. Foden apologised for his conduct via social media on Monday night, while Greenwood issued a statement through United the following morning.
“Having now had the chance to reflect on what’s happened, I can only apologise to everyone for the embarrassment I have caused,” the 18-year-old said. “It was irresponsible of me to break the COVID-19 protocols which are in place to protect players, staff and the public.
“In particular, I want to apologise to Gareth Southgate, for letting him down, when he had shown great trust in me. Playing for England was one of the proudest moments in my life and I only have myself to blame for this huge mistake. I promise my family, the fans, Manchester United and England that this is a lesson I will learn from.”
Foden, who is 20-years-old, admitted he had made an error in judgement and that he would learn a “valuable lesson”. City condemned their player’s actions, describing Foden’s behaviour as “well below the standard expected of a Manchester City player and England international”.
Greenwood and Foden were both called up to the senior England squad for the first time as part of these qualifiers and earned their first international caps in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Iceland, yet now face the prospect of being overlooked by Southgate for squads in the near future.
It is the second high-profile disciplinary matter which Southgate has had to deal with in recent weeks following the arrest of United captain Harry Maguire in Mykonos last month, and the England manager refuted suggestions that players may see him as a ‘soft touch’.
“I think we like to have a good relationship with the players, but the players that have worked with me for a long time know I’m not afraid to make tough calls, so no, I don’t agree that is the case,” he said.
“I don’t think I can be responsible for discipline when players are not with us. We then have to make decisions on how we approach it.
“I think whenever there have been issues, whether it’s been as an Under-21 coach or senior coach, we’ve dealt with them internally, so I think we’ve been very strict and firm.”