Southgate: I've never experienced an injury crisis like this

Gareth Southgate says he has never experienced anything like the injury crisis England are in right now, with his plans for Tuesday's friendly with Belgium hit by more players pulling out of his squad.

The double-header this month with Brazil and Belgium was meant to be a stiff test for England's first-choice side in preparation for Euro 2024 but instead Southgate can now count as many as 15 regular players unavailable to him.

That adds to an absentee list which also includes Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Luke Shaw, Reece James, Marc Guehi, Levi Colwill, Tyrone Mings, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jack Grealish and Callum Wilson.

"It's an incredible number unavailable to us," said Southgate in his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"I haven't experienced that before. But it means there's opportunities for other people. We saw against Brazil players step up and take those opportunities which is great for us as well."

Speaking about how the absentees had impacted his plans for these friendlies, Southgate tried to see the positives: "I have to say, with everything that's happened, the original idea or plan for the week is a little bit different.

"We're probably finding out about more players, but that's really helpful. To see all those players against high level opposition will help us make better decisions moving forward."

Among those players will be Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who Southgate confirmed "will be involved" against Belgium after watching Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins stake his claim for the role of understudy to captain Harry Kane against Brazil.

Kobbie Mainoo - called up from the U21s - is another who has benefited, making his debut on Saturday with Jordan Henderson injured. Southgate says Henderson would struggle to play 90 minutes on Tuesday given that problem.