Joe Gomez returns to England after 3 1/2-year absence

Joe Gomez returns to England after 3 1/2-year absence

The last time Joe Gomez was on a practice field on England duty, he was being carried into an ambulance and driven to the hospital after rupturing the patellar tendon in his left knee during a training session.

That was in November 2020 and the 3½-year wait for another call-up by his country took a “psychological toll,” the Liverpool defender said Wednesday.

So it was with a sense of satisfaction and pride that he stepped back onto the training pitches at England’s St. George’s Park base on Tuesday, having been summoned for the first time since that serious injury which ruled him out for eight months and cost him a place at the European Championship in 2021.

“It meant a lot to me yesterday, doing the warmup,” the 26-year-old Gomez said. “It’s nice to feel I can close that chapter, not to be over-dramatic.

“(Injuries are) part of the game, but it being so sudden and the way it happened, just leaving and never really getting a chance to come back, it was tough to deal with. It’s meant a lot just to be in the mix and to be with the boys again.”

Gomez has forced his way back into England coach Gareth Southgate’s thinking because of some consistent displays for Liverpool in a number of positions. A key part of the team that won the Premier League in 2020, Gomez learned plenty playing at center back alongside the indomitable Virgil van Dijk but has featured this season at left back, right back and even as a holding midfielder amid an injury crisis in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

He has quickly replaced the departed James Milner as Liverpool’s “Mr. Versatile” and that is likely to work in his favour when Southgate selects his squad in May for Euro 2024.

After a strong display by Gomez in a recent match against Manchester City in the Premier League, Klopp suggested Southgate might want to call on a player back in top form.

“Joe Gomez. Gareth, honestly!” said Klopp, who a few days earlier had said: “I’m not standing here telling Gareth who he should pick but you can get one player and have four positions covered. Wonderful.”

Southgate has obliged — and in doing so denied Gomez a mini-break to Dubai, which he had booked for this international break before having to cancel when getting the call for friendly matches against Brazil on Saturday and Belgium on Tuesday.

Not that Gomez is complaining.

“I believe everything happens for a reason and at the right time,” he said.

“I don’t want to think too far in advance. I’m focusing on this week and our two big games against top opposition. Being back on the pitch would be nice.”

  • PublishedMarch 20, 2024

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