Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood offered counselling after Iceland women scandal

Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden will have the option of counselling to help them deal with their England shame.

But Gareth Southgate will feel like booking an appointment himself as his reign as Three Lions boss threatens to unravel.

Covid-19 has turned the world upside down and thrown Southgate's plans to conquer Europe next summer into total confusion.

But despite having to somehow adapt to a new footballing landscape, even someone as bright and forward-thinking as Southgate could never have predicted the events of the last few days.

The decision of Greenwood and Foden to smuggle two women into the team hotel in Iceland and break strict lockdown protocols has cast a dark shadow over the progress and appreciation of Southgate's squad.

The scandal, combined with two disappointing Nations League performances against Iceland and Denmark, has left Southgate with much to ponder ahead of the next round of matches in October.

A limp 1-0 win in Reykjavik followed by a goalless draw in Denmark means England sent home more players in shame than they scored goals.

Top of Southgate's agenda is what to do with dumb and dumber duo Greenwood and Foden.

Tipped as the rising stars of our national game, they have badly betrayed Southgate and he will now delve into their backgrounds and characters in a bid to work out what makes them tick and how he can best support them.

He said: "I obviously have to think through lots of conversations that need to happen. Trust can be built in many different ways.

"I need to spend time… because I don't know the two boys well. I need to spend time to understand all of that situation far better than I had time to speak (about it) on Monday.

"I literally had 10 minutes before training, and five minutes before we left Iceland, to prepare for something as significant as what we've been through. That isn't an adequate opportunity to really sit and talk things through."

Southgate believes playing this round of matches was a mistake due to the fact his players were ill-prepared and insists it left him in a 'bizarre' situation.

He said: "Playing games in the pre-season period, I think that is the really difficult thing.

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"We were obviously without eight players when we started but also six came back from holiday and had not trained for two weeks and we had another four who had not played a minute of pre-season due to quarantine and other issues.

"So you are selecting a team based around who you think can finish the game – and then you are making substitutes based on those sort of match minutes. So at an elite level, this is a bizarre situation to be in."

Southgate is refusing to write-off the last two games and praised the performances of Eric Dier and debutant Conor Coady, but knows he has a difficult path ahead as he targets winning the Euros in June – despite facing World Cup qualifiers just four months earlier.

He added: "It won't be straightforward. March, in particular, will be very complicated regarding the World Cup qualifiers given clubs will be at that stage of the season when we are heading towards silverware.

"So I think the whole world is having to accept that getting back to work and living with the virus is complicated in every industry – and ours is no different.

"I think these are real pluses from individual performances, I'm thinking of Eric Dier and Conor Coady in particular.

"But I just think for the players this was a really difficult month to get them anywhere near the level they would want to be."

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