Rashford, Hazard, Depay & 25 players thrown Euros lifeline by move to 2021

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The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the European Championships delayed by a year, after a number of top players had been set to miss out

The coronavirus outbreak has thrown the world of sport into disarray, and football has been no different.

In March, it was decided that Euro 2020 would be postponed by a full year, until the summer of 2021.

While it may be far down the list of players' priorities as the virus spreads, the delay will nevertheless have a big impact on players and teams alike - particularly those coming toward the end of their careers, who may now miss the tournament.

However, plenty of others may have been given a second chance by the delay, after suffering from injuries, bad form, or competition for places.

  1. Eden Hazard
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    Eden Hazard

    Hazard is one of the undisputed stars of Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, but looked like missing out on the tournament after suffering a fractured ankle in February.

    Now, he has the chance to regain his fitness and discover some consistent form at Real Madrid.

    With him, Belgium will be looking to make amends for their semi-final exit at the 2018 World Cup.

    Hazard will be 30 by the time the tournament is scheduled to begin. He already has more than 100 senior international caps to his name, as well as 32 goals for his country.

  2. Robert Skov
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    Robert Skov

    Hoffenheim’s 23-year-old winger Skov is one of the leading talents in Danish football right now, but he is still short of international experience.

    In his final season at Copenhagen, he broke the Danish Superliga’s goalscoring record with 30 goals.

    Since moving to the Bundesliga, the flow has been slowed. He has three goals to his name in 18 league games for Hoffenheim.

    Another year of development could see Skov hit his peak by the time the Euros start, and add to his three goals from four appearances for Denmark so far.

  3. Marcus Rashford
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    Marcus Rashford

    Rashford was in the form of his life for Manchester United, and looked set to lead the line for England when Harry Kane was injured.

    Then, Rashford was ruled out too. And, while he was adamant that he was aiming to make the Three Lions’ squad, Gareth Southgate would have had a difficult decision to make.

    With time to recover his fitness, Rashford will be a near certainty to start, and he will be hoping to have another few months of deadly form for United under his belt.

  4. Marco Asensio
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    Marco Asensio

    The 24-year-old Asensio would likely have been looking at the 2019-20 season as an opportunity to kick his game onto the next level, developing into a regular match-winner for Real Madrid.

    Instead, his season ended before it began. He scored in a pre-season game against Arsenal but went off with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

    With Euro 2020 looming, it was a huge ask for Asensio to recover fitness and show enough form to make Spain’s squad, but the postponement has given him every chance of staking a claim.

  5. Jukka Raitala
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    Jukka Raitala

    Finland qualified for a European Championship for the first time this time around, but Montreal Impact left-back Raitala looked to have suffered a heartbreaking end to his international career.

    Euro 2020 may have been his last chance at an international tournament, but a broken shin saw the opportunity ripped away.

    Now, the 31-year-old has a chance to make sure he remains in Markku Kanerva’s squad for Euro 2021.

  6. Ethan Ampadu
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    Ethan Ampadu

    Teenage prodigy Ampadu’s place in the Wales squad for Euro 2020 was hardly in doubt, though he hasn’t played quite as many games on loan at RB Leipzig as he may have liked.

    Seven appearances for the Bundesliga side have included just two starts – both in the Champions League – and the delay to the Euros could give him the chance to get more minutes under his belt.

    Ampadu turns 20 in September, and may fancy his chances of game time under Frank Lampard at Chelsea.

    An extra year’s worth of development could be important as he looks to add to his 13 senior caps.

  7. Andre Gomes
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    Andre Gomes

    With 29 senior caps in five years, Gomes was a safe bet for minutes at the Euros – but his horror injury for Everton against Tottenham put that in doubt.

    Remarkably, Gomes recovered in time to return to action for the Toffees before the coronavirus began to take its toll on European football.

    However, with only a couple of months of the season remaining, Gomes was on thin ice. Any further form or fitness issues could have seen his hopes torpedoed again.

    Instead, the 26-year-old will have an extra year to find his rhythm and get back to his elegant best.

  8. Dominic Calvert-Lewin
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    Dominic Calvert-Lewin

    Gomes’ Everton team-mate Calvert-Lewin has looked a player transformed under Carlo Ancelotti, but it was early days under the Italian.

    To make England’s squad, he needed to prove his form was more than just a purple patch, and could be transferred to the international stage.

    With an extra year to prove himself at Goodison Park, it’s make or break time for Calvert-Lewin. If the goals keep coming, even Harry Kane’s spot in the team might not be unassailable.

  9. Alexander Nubel
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    Alexander Nubel

    Schalke starlet Nubel raised eyebrows when he confirmed his planned move to Bayern Munich earlier in the season.

    In Manuel Neuer, both Bayern and Germany seemingly believe they have the best goalkeeper in the world. Nubel was his successor, but he would have to wait for his time in the spotlight.

    Now, he has a chance to show what he can do. Dislodge Neuer from the Bayern team, and he would have a shout at his spot at international level.

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen, however, might also have something to say about it.

  10. Paul Pogba
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    Paul Pogba

    Pogba might be one of the most divisive players in world football, but his impact for France is difficult to argue with.

    A goal in the World Cup final in 2018 topped a fine individual tournament for the Manchester United man, but he has hardly been seen this season due to fitness issues.

    Pogba may well be angling for a move away from Old Trafford, and he may get one.

    That could see his form pick up at club level, but more important will be his fitness. After what has seemed like a wasted season, Pogba is desperate to get back on the pitch again and now has time on his side.

  11. Ladislav Krejci
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    Ladislav Krejci

    Bologna winger Krejci has been a consistent presence for the Czech Republic in recent years, scoring five goals in 40 appearances since his senior debut in 2012.

    However, he had been out of action since early December with a serious knee injury and was a doubt for Euro 2020.

    Krejci will have plenty of time to find his fitness and rhythm and, at 27, is still in his peak years.

  12. Mateo Kovacic
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    Mateo Kovacic

    Kovacic has been one of the success stories of the season in Chelsea’s midfield, looking a different player to the ponderous, ineffective presence he provided under Maurizio Sarri.

    The Croatia midfielder has been excellent under Frank Lampard, and will have been hoping to head into the Euros on top form.

    He then limped out of the FA Cup win over Liverpool, and his tournament was in doubt.

    With time to find his fitness again, Kovacic will be hoping he can rediscover his form as well.

  13. Harry Kane

    Harry Kane

    When Kane hobbled out of Tottenham’s game with Southampton on New Year’s Day, much of England’s positivity going into the Euros hobbled off with him.

    Without their captain and top scorer, Gareth Southgate’s side looked much less threatening, though Marcus Rashford was ready to step up.

    With both ready to return to full fitness in the coming months, England have been given a real boost.

    Kane hadn’t always been at his best for Tottenham this season, but could find a new lease of life by an extended spell away from action.

  14. Donyell Malen
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    Donyell Malen

    PSV star Malen has left Arsenal fans wondering what they could have had this season, as the 21-year-old former Gunner has rattled in 11 goals in 14 Eredivisie games.

    He was, however, facing a race to be fit after suffering a knee injury midway through the league season.

    Now he can continue his development afresh.

    From 11 goals in 42 games in all competitions in 2018-19 to 17 in 25 this time around, Malen is on an upward curve and will hope to ride it all the way to the Netherlands’ tournament squad.

  15. Niklas Sule
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    Niklas Sule

    Sule’s cruciate ligament injury early on in the season was a huge blow for Bayern Munich and Germany.

    The 24-year-old’s towering presence at the back was sorely missed in the early throngs of the Bundesliga campaign, and he has become a key man for his country.

    Sule was ruled out for the entire campaign and was near-certain to miss Euro 2020 as well.

    Now, he has been handed a lifeline. Having conceded six goals in two games against the Netherlands in qualifying, Germany’s backline will be grateful to have him back.

  16. Mason Greenwood
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    Mason Greenwood

    Greenwood has been enjoying a breakthrough year in 2019-20, but Euro 2020 would probably have come too early for him.

    With an extra year of development ahead of him, he now has an outside chance of sneaking into the England squad.

    The Three Lions have plenty of talent to pick from in the attacking positions, so he will have to deliver consistently for Manchester United – but he hasn’t struggled to do that so far.

  17. Thomas Goiginger
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    Thomas Goiginger

    LASK winger Goiginger only made his senior international debut for Austria at the end of 2019, but will have been harbouring hopes of making the final squad for the Euros.

    When he tore his cruciate ligament just three days before his 27th birthday in early March, those hopes looked to have been dashed.

    Now, Goiginger has time to recover – but he will be hoping to add to his single senior cap before the tournament gets underway.

  18. Ousmane Dembele
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    Ousmane Dembele

    Dembele’s time at Barcelona has been a wretched one, dogged by a lack of consistency and constant fitness troubles.

    After suffering yet another long-term injury, the Frenchman looked certain to miss the Euros.

    Now, he has a chance of proving his undoubted talent again. Whether he does that at Barca or moves elsewhere, remains to be seen.

  19. Memphis Depay

    Memphis Depay

    While Depay is one of the undoubted stars of the Netherlands’ exciting young team, a cruciate ligament rupture in mid-December meant he faced a race to be fit for the start of the Euros.

    Expected to be out until July, taking him would have been a risk for Ronald Koeman.

    Now, the Dutch can be confident that Depay will be back fit and firing by the time the tournament begins.

  20. Cenk Tosun
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    Cenk Tosun

    Turkey’s pre-tournament preparations had been badly hit by injuries.

    Tosun, Merih Demiral, Ozan Kabak and Yusuf Yazici were all potential doubts with long-term issues.

    With 16 goals in 40 international appearances, Tosun would have left a real gap in Turkey’s squad if he had been missing. He and his team-mates will hope to be back on form by the summer of 2021.

  21. Kasper Dolberg
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    Kasper Dolberg

    Former Ajax prodigy Dolberg was a player in danger of failing to live up to the hype, but at Nice he has found his goalscoring touch again.

    With 11 goals in 23 Ligue 1 games, Dolberg will be growing in confidence, and at 22 years old he has plenty of time ahead of him to develop.

    Another year in France could see him take his game to new heights – which would be excellent news for Denmark.

  22. Jaser Cillessen
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    Jaser Cillessen

    A hip injury in December has seen Cillessen in and out of the team at Valencia, with Jaume Domenech staking a claim on his first-team spot.

    The Dutchman did start both of his side’s last two games in La Liga before the interruption, but another year to nail down the No.1 shirt for his club should do his confidence some good ahead of a major international tournament.

  23. Daniel James

    Daniel James

    James’ first season at Manchester United has been hard to evaluate.

    After a lightning-quick start with three goals in his first four Premier League games, the Welsh youngster had to wait until mid-March to find the net again, against LASK in the Europa League.

    Coming up from the Championship, expecting him to slot right in at Old Trafford was a big ask.

    Another year of development could be important for him and for Wales.

  24. Nicolo Zaniolo
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    Nicolo Zaniolo

    Zaniolo is one of the rising stars of Italian football, but a cruciate ligament tear looked to have ended his chances of making Italy’s final tournament squad.

    The Roma youngster turns 21 in the summer, and will be hoping to put the injury behind him and continue his development on his return.

    He has two goals in five senior international appearances to date, having made his debut in a 2-0 European qualifying win over Finland in March 2019.

  25. Tammy Abraham
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    Tammy Abraham

    The injuries to Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford looked to have spelled good news for England’s other forwards, but Abraham was beginning to lose ground in the race for the squad.

    His excellent first half of the season had given way to a leaner spell since Christmas, and questions were being asked of his ability to produce against the top sides.

    Abraham has four caps to his name since making his debut in late 2019, so he is clearly in Gareth Southgate’s thinking for the future.

    Now, he has more time to prove he is good enough for the highest level.