London, March 25 (IANS) England coach Gareth Southgate called-up Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson for Sunday’s 2018 football World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, in place of injured Chris Smalling.

Gibson trained on Friday with the England squad at the Tottenham Hotspur sports club in Enfield, north London, reports Efe.

The Middlesbrough defender comes as a replacement for Smalling, who left the training camp because of injury and returned to his club to be treated.

During Southgate’s management of England U21, Gibson was a regular member. However, Southgate had been not planning for any replacement despite the earlier absences of Gary Cahill and Phil Jones but Smalling’s latest injury forced him to pick up Gibson.

Earlier Southgate said, “We’ll just assess over the next 24 hours if we have picked up any other knocks. I am not aware of anything significant at the moment so if that is the case we wouldn’t.”

With Phil Jones also absent with an injury and Gary Cahill for sanction, Southgate’s options in the centre-back position are limited to John Stones (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Burnley) and Gibson himself.

England, which lost 0-1 to Germany in a friendly on Wednesday in Dortmund, leads Group F in the qualifying round for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with 10 points.

New updated England squad: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton, Ryan Bertrand , Nathaniel Clyne, Ben Gibson, Michael Keane, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli, Ross Barkley, Eric Dier, Adam Lallana, Jesse Lingard, Jake Livermore, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathan Redmond, Raheem Sterling, James Ward-Prowse, Jermain Defoe, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy.

(With Inputs from IANS) 

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