UEFA has confirmed that teams competing in this year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament will be allowed to select a 26-man squad instead of the usual 23.

The change has been rolled out to ease the burden on players following a compressed club season and to help national teams in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

UEFA's executive committee approved the proposal on Tuesday and announced teams can make unlimited changes to their squad up until their first game in the event of a serious injury or illness.

The new regulations will also allow goalkeepers to be replaced before each match "in case of physical incapacity", even if two other keepers from the initial list are still available.

However, while teams can now name 26-man squads, only 23 of those can be selected per matchday.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez and Italy's Roberto Mancini are among those to have called for squad sizes to be increased.

UEFA confirmed in March that teams can make five substitutions per match, rather than the usual three.

The tournament, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, begins on June 11 in Rome and is set to conclude with the final at Wembley on July 11.

Romelu Lukaku is hoping to fire Belgium to Euro 2020 glory after gaining a "killer mentality" with Scudetto winners Inter.

The 27-year-old has scored 21 Serie A goals and provided a further 10 assists this season for Inter, who were crowned champions on Sunday for the first time in 11 years.

It is just the second title won by the prolific striker across his 12-year senior career after finishing first in the Belgian Pro League with Anderlecht in 2009-10.

Lukaku, who joined Inter from Manchester United in August 2019, has now set his sights on inspiring Belgium to their first piece of major silverware at the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

"Winning a club title allows you to gain experience and allows you to know how to approach matches," he told La Tribune. "You get this killer mentality.

"That is something I've missed in my career. I've given up too many times before. Then I said to myself 'I'm tired, I'm 27, it's time for a change'. But the work doesn't stop here.

"Right now I'm happy because we are champions, but I'm already focused on the Euros because it's important to me.

"I really hope the other Belgium players, like [Thibaut] Courtois, Eden [Hazard], [Axel] Witsel and [Kevin] De Bruyne, can also win titles. 

"That would be good for the team. It would bring a good team spirit and we can all move forward together."

Lukaku is scoring from 23.6 per cent of his shots – making him the first Serie A player since 2004-05 to tally 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season.

The ex-Chelsea striker's 31 combined goals and assists in Serie A this season is the most of any player, with Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo next on the list with 30.

Despite enjoying one of his most prolific seasons yet in front of goal, however, Lukaku does not believe he is the best striker in the world.

"That is Karim Benzema, without a doubt," he said.

Benzema is averaging a goal every 121.62 minutes in LaLiga for title contenders Real Madrid this season, compared to Lukaku's return of a goal every 127.29 minutes in Serie A.

The Frenchman has 21 league goals in total this campaign and a further eight assists.

Harvey Barnes has suffered a setback in his return from a knee injury, ruling the winger out for not just the remainder of the domestic season but also Euro 2020.

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers confirmed on Wednesday that Barnes – who has not played since a 3-1 home loss to Arsenal on February 28 – underwent a second operation to clean out the knee.

The procedure means the Foxes will have to do without the 23-year-old for the Premier League run-in, as well as the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 15.

Barnes scored nine goals and provided four assists in 25 league games for Leicester, who are on course to qualify for next season's Champions League with a top-four finish.

"We've had a slight setback with Harvey," Rodgers told the media.

"He's just gone in to have a second, minor operation, just to clear up some of the damage in his knee.

"It will probably rule him out for the rest of the season, but the plan is really to get him through this second little operation and then he'll be back for pre-season and fit and ready for next season."

 

Barnes impressively outperformed his expected goals (xG) number of 5.9 in league action in 2020-21, scoring nine times from 56 shots while also creating 26 chances for his team-mates.

His impressive form at club level led to a full international debut last October, as he came on as a late substitute in England's 3-0 friendly win over Wales.

However, any hope he had of forcing his way into Gareth Southgate's plans for Euro 2020 have been ended by further surgery, with Rodgers making clear the target is to be ready for the start of the 2021-22 season.

"It's a shame because he's been absolutely outstanding for us this season," Rodgers added. "Of course, we hoped he'd be back to play some part, but it’s not to be.

"The most important thing is getting his knee right and getting him ready for next season."

Leicester sit third in the table with five games remaining – they have a seven-point gap over fifth-placed West Ham after Monday's 2-1 home win over Crystal Palace, putting them on course to play in the Champions League for just the second time in their history.

UEFA has announced that Euro 2020 matches originally scheduled to be held in Bilbao and Dublin will be moved to new venues.

While Munich was ratified as a host venue for the tournament after confirming it would be able to permit 14,500 spectators for its games, Bilbao and Dublin could make no such guarantees.

Following discussions with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), the three Group E games and a round-of-16 match due to take place in Bilbao will instead be staged at Estadio La Cartuja in Seville with the intention of allowing 30 per cent capacity.

Meanwhile, Dublin's three Group E matches have been reallocated to St Petersburg, which is already hosting three Group B games and a quarter-final, while the round-of-16 contest that was set take place in the Irish capital will now be held at Wembley.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: "We have been working diligently with the host associations and local authorities to ensure a safe and festive environment at the games and I am really pleased that we are able to welcome spectators at all matches for a celebration of national team football across the continent.

"UEFA wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to the cities of Bilbao and Dublin – both of which are considered as good venues to host future UEFA events – the national and regional governments of Spain and the Republic of Ireland, and all local stakeholders for their dedication, professionalism and efforts over the past years.

"UEFA would also like to thank the Football Association of Ireland and its dedicated staff for their excellent collaboration and hard work, and is looking forward to continuing to work with the remaining eleven host associations in delivering UEFA EURO 2020 matches."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin sounded a conciliatory note as plans for a European Super League unravelled in the face of wide-ranging backlash. 

Little more than a day after hitting out at a proposal he said was "fuelled purely by greed above all else," Ceferin indicated a willingness to move forward with the clubs that have backed out of the breakaway league. 

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all confirmed they were ending their involvement with the European Super League after a popular uproar about the plans. 

“I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake," Ceferin said in a statement. 

“But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.

“The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”

The English clubs' withdrawal from the venture leaves Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Inter to continue, but it is unclear what shape the proposal might take with half of its projected participants no longer involved. 

The European Super League said after the defections it would "reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project". 

UEFA plans to move ahead with the Champions League revisions announced Monday in the face of whatever threat might remain from the Super League proponents. 

Those plans include an increased field of 36 teams as the present format -  whereby there are eight pools of four – will be scrapped.

Instead, each team will play 10 group games before advancing to a last-16 knockout format. The changes are due to be introduced for the 2024-25 season.

The European Club Association (ECA) has condemned the proposed Super League while announcing a new executive committee including representatives from Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.

A 12-team group including some of European football's biggest names confirmed plans for a breakaway competition on Sunday, with those founding members guaranteed to be involved every year regardless of their domestic performances.

The competition has received widespread criticism from governing bodies, former players and fan groups alike.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin branded the European Super League as a "disgraceful, self-serving proposal" fuelled by greed, as well as confirming players from the clubs involved will be banned from playing international football.

After a meeting of its executive board on Monday, the ECA made clear it remains the only "legitimate and fully recognised voice" for Europe's leading teams.

"The board was unanimous in its condemnation of the actions of the departing members, which it holds to be self-serving and to the detriment of the game's wellbeing and in clear opposition to ECA's values," a statement read.

"We believe that European club football can be reformed from within the system to achieve the collective best interests of all stakeholders in the game.

"The board reiterated ECA's clear position as the only legitimate and fully recognised voice of the leading clubs in Europe and, as such, has taken a number of decisions to ensure that it is able to continue to perform its role efficiently and effectively."

The ECA also announced PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi will be involved on a new-look executive committee, as well as Bayern representative Michael Gerlinger. Neither of the clubs were involved in the European Super League.

They will be joined by Edwin van der Sar (Ajax), Dariusz Mioduski (Legia Warszawa), Aki Riihilahti (HJK Helsinki) and Michele Centenaro (the ECA's independent board member).

Meanwhile, UEFA announced plans for Champions League expansion on Monday, the tournament set to see an increase to 36 teams from the 2024-25 season onwards.

"We are pleased that UEFA club competitions reform has reached this important milestone," the ECA said on the structural changes to the competition. 

"The agreement of new competition formats will create a greater number of high quality, relevant, exciting European matches for fans and increase participation for clubs at all levels - principles and targets that ECA laid out back in the Spring of 2019 when we embarked on this reform journey. 

"Moving forward, the entire ECA executive board's focus will be on pursuing efforts to conclude arrangements with UEFA around its renewed relationship post-2024 as we look to shape European club football for the years ahead."

Bayern CEO and honorary ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who is to replace Andrea Agnelli as one of two representatives on the UEFA executive committee, made clear that the Bundesliga club support the revamped Champions League structure.

"Bayern has not been involved in the plans for creating a Super League. We are convinced that the current structure in football guarantees a reliable foundation," Rummenigge said. 

"Bayern welcomes the reforms of the Champions League because we believe they are the right step to take for the development of European football. The modified group stage will contribute to an increase in excitement and the emotional experience in the competition.

"I do not believe the Super League will solve the financial problems of European clubs that have arisen as result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Rather, all clubs in Europe should work in solidarity to ensure that the cost structure, especially players' salaries and agents' fees, are brought in line with revenues, to make all of European football more rational."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has branded the planned European Super League as a "disgraceful, self-serving proposal" fuelled by greed, as well as confirming players from the 12 breakaway clubs involved will be banned from international football.

The 'big six' from the Premier League have collaborated with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Milan and Real Madrid to reveal plans for a new midweek club competition.

Those founder members would automatically qualify each season no matter where they finished in their respective domestic leagues.

Speaking during a conference call to reveal "dynamic" changes to UEFA's current European club tournaments, Ceferin made clear how results on the pitch should always decide who participates, rather than a "closed shop run by a greedy few".

"We began this project to modernise the competitions in 2019 judged by the principle it should be: an exercise in inclusive leadership," Ceferin told the media.

"At the start of the process, we were driven by a desire to help all UEFA club competitions into something even better than the spectacles we know today. With the unanimous support of the European Club Association (ECA), we consulted widely across the game.

"Teams will always qualify and compete in our competitions on merit, not a closed shop run by a greedy, select few. That was our decision from the beginning.

"Any club, any fans should still have the dream of participating in the Champions League based on their results on the pitch."

The European Super League plan has come in for widespread criticism and Ceferin did not hold back in his own assessment, as well making clear the ramifications it will have for players outside of club football.

"I must address the extraordinary situation that has developed on the eve of this announcement," he continued.

"I cannot stress more strongly at this moment that UEFA and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposal in the past 24 hours from a select few clubs in Europe that are fuelled purely by greed above all else.

"Not only is the football world united, but society is also united, governments are united. It's part of our culture – we are all united against this nonsense of a project.

"We have the English FA, Spanish Federation, Italian Federation, Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, and also FIFA and all our 55 member associations unanimous in opposition to this cynical plan that are completely against what football should be.

"Our game has become the greatest sport in the world based on open competition, integrity and sporting merit. We cannot allow, and we will not allow that to change, ever. Never.

"As previously announced by FIFA and the six confederations, the players that play in the teams that might play in the closed league, will be banned from playing in the World Cup and the Euros. They will not be able to represent their national teams in any matches."

UEFA announced plans for Champions League expansion that will see an increase to 36 teams as the present format -  whereby there are eight pools of four – will be scrapped.

Instead, each team will play 10 group games before advancing to a last-16 knockout format. The changes are due to be introduced for the 2024-25 season.

"Whoever thinks the Super League and UEFA are all about money is not right. Super League is only about money, money of the dozen – I don't want to call them the dirty dozen," Ceferin said. 

"UEFA is about developing football, about financing what should be financed, that our football and our culture survives. Some people do not understand it.

"The reforms preserve the value of the domestic game by retaining the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification – this should, and will not, ever change.

"The European game is the greatest success story of the modern sport, and there's a reason why – because of its pyramid, it's long history. We are constantly adapting the European competition to ensure it is more and more interesting, more and more modern, but the principles cannot change.

"Solidarity is something that cannot change, but for some people solidarity doesn't exist, unity doesn't exist. The only thing that exists is their pockets."

Scotsman David Moyes has little interest in protecting Jesse Lingard for England duty but allayed fears of an injury after he was substituted in West Ham's 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United.

Lingard has been in sensational form since joining the Hammers on loan from Manchester United, forcing his way back into the Three Lions set-up.

His goal at St James' Park on Saturday was his ninth for West Ham, already his best tally in a single Premier League season.

But seven minutes after that penalty strike, by which time Newcastle had restored their lead against the visiting side who were reduced to 10 men, Lingard went down and required treatment.

The midfielder had to be substituted, concerning supporters of both West Ham - who have come to rely on their loan star - and England.

But manager Moyes said: "I think it was just cramp. I've not had the chance to speak to the physio about it, but I don't think it was anything serious, to be honest."

Lingard had a team-high four shots against Newcastle but was less effective than in previous weeks, besides the spot-kick which looked to have completed a stunning second-half fightback.

Moyes is not worried West Ham are running Lingard into the ground ahead of Euro 2020, though. England will play Scotland in the group stage of the tournament on June 18.

"I think the one thing about Jesse is he is a really fit boy," Moyes said. "I think Jesse wants to play.

"I think I push all my players hard - I've never done anything else but push them hard - and I pushed them hard today to go out and play better and try to give ourselves a chance.

"Jesse is no different. He won't get any favoured treatment - certainly not for a Scotsman going into the Euros this year.

"Overall, we're really pleased with him. He does a lot of good things.

"He was quieter today, I have to say. I know he got us the goal, but he was a bit quieter because we just didn't play well enough playing into the forward players and around them."

Awful defensive errors had given Newcastle a 2-0 lead on Tyneside.

First, Craig Dawson - already on a booking - lunged in on Joelinton following a heavy touch. Play continued and Allan Saint-Maximin's shot was turned into his own net by Issa Diop.

Dawson was credited with an error leading to a goal but was also sent off, his first red card in 345 English league appearances.

Diop's own goal was West Ham's fourth of the season - a league high - yet their defensive woes did not end there. Five minutes later, Lukasz Fabianski dropped a routine corner for his own error leading to a goal as Joelinton tapped in.

Newcastle appeared reluctant to push for a third, though, and a Diop header - making him the second player, after team-mate Tomas Soucek, to score at either end in a game this season - gave West Ham hope 17 minutes from time.

Lingard then punished Ciaran Clark's handball from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go, before Joe Willock was introduced from the restart and quickly nodded the winner.

Moyes' Champions League-chasing side are still fourth despite the defeat, but have played a game more than Chelsea and Liverpool, one and three points behind respectively.

"It was an opportunity for us to take three points," Moyes said. "We like to talk about the Champions League - we love the sound of that - but we're realistic.

"The quality of the teams who are around us and below us have been over this course many more times than us.

"The way the players are playing is fantastic. Today we made a couple of mistakes which probably cost us the game."

Pedro Neto will miss the rest of the Premier League season for Wolves, with knee surgery placing the Portugal forward's Euro 2020 participation in doubt.

Neto was substituted during Wolves' 1-0 win at Fulham last Friday and visited a specialist in London to assess the extent of the damage to his knee cap.

The 21-year-old winger will require surgery, planned for later this week, that is expected to see him play no further part for Nuno Espirito Santos' men this term.

He scored five goals and supplied six assists in 31 Premier League appearances, having started all but one of Wolves' top-flight games in 2020-21 and featured in each of them.

Neto made his senior international breakthrough with Portugal this season, scoring on his debut against Andorra last November before winning caps in last month's World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.

Another of Wolves' Portugal contingent, Ruben Neves, is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

Nuno's side are 12th in the table and take on bottom club Sheffield United this weekend.

Portugal begin their campaign at the rescheduled Euro 2020 versus Hungary on June 15 and the holders must navigate a tough group alongside world champions France and Germany.

Jurgen Klopp does not want to continue the debate surrounding Trent Alexander-Arnold's England hopes after the right-back again wrote himself into the headlines, this time in front of Gareth Southgate.

Alexander-Arnold was controversially left out of the latest Three Lions squad by Southgate last month, the team's final gathering before a group for Euro 2020 is named.

Liverpool manager Klopp defended his player and said Alexander-Arnold's form - widely questioned this season - "cannot be the reason" for his omission.

The 22-year-old has since turned in an influential display at Arsenal, assisting the first goal in a 3-0 win, before his error let Marco Asensio in for one of three Real Madrid goals in the Champions League in midweek.

Back in Premier League action on Saturday, Alexander-Arnold was a talking point again for the right reasons.

His superb 91st-minute strike clinched a 2-1 win over Aston Villa, Liverpool's first Anfield success of 2021.

The academy graduate wrote on Twitter: "Are you not entertained!?"

Alexander-Arnold had a game-high 102 touches and no Reds player created more chances than his three. Crucially, he also made a joint-high three tackles.

A balance between attack and defence has been identified as key, and this was the first time all season Alexander-Arnold had three key passes and three tackles in the same league match.

Klopp was again asked about his star performer post-match but hopes the topic of conversation can finally now change.

"He wants to be in the [England] squad - that is clear - so we don't have to talk too much about it," Klopp said. "He is a wonderful player.

"I think Gareth agrees that he is a really wonderful player, then there is a manager who has to make a decision.

"I respect that, I really respect that. Trent respects that, I respect that.

"To be in the England squad, you have to play outstanding football. Trent did this very, very often at a very young age. So there's nothing to talk about.

"There will be tough decisions, not only at that position, too, for Gareth. I have to make tough decisions every day – that's normal in the job.

"But we don't have to talk about it; just leave the boy playing football, which he's pretty good at, and don't talk any more about it."

Although Alexander-Arnold lost possession 35 times and was dribbled past twice, there were no errors leading to shots to add to the two against Madrid - one of which Asensio punished.

Prior to the trip to Spain, Alexander-Arnold had only made one such error all season across all competitions.

"Life is like this, football is like this," Klopp said, hailing the defender's character.

"He played an exceptional game against Arsenal, a top game today, and in Real Madrid, we don't have to hide that, he was involved in the second goal they scored. That's how it is.

"I don't think Trent is in a situation where he has to prove himself constantly at this level; he has to play good football.

"As a young player, you have to develop, and you only do that if you challenge yourself in specific moments.

"If he's not playing well, it's not that he's not bothered or doesn't care, it's the opposite."

Eight host countries have confirmed plans to allow fans to attend matches at Euro 2020.

Venues in Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London and St Petersburg will allow spectators at games at different capacity levels.

Wembley Stadium, which will host three group games, a round-of-16 match and the semi-finals and final, will permit a minimum of 25 per cent stadium capacity for the early rounds and hopes for a higher number for the final three games.

Games in Amsterdam, Bucharest, Copenhagen and Glasgow have confirmed capacities of 25 per cent to 33 per cent. The first three of those cities hope to increase numbers depending on their mass testing programmes and the general state of the coronavirus pandemic.

Matches in Baku can be attended by 50 per cent of the stadium's capacity, although fans travelling into Azerbaijan will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country.

St Petersburg also hopes for a 50 per cent capacity with the prospect of an increase, while Budapest aims for full crowds provided that strict stadium entry requirements are met.

The four remaining cities – Munich, Rome, Bilbao and Dublin – have until April 19 to provide additional information on plans for spectators.

"UEFA is pleased to announce that there will be a return of spectators to the Euro 2020 venues and wishes to express its appreciation to its member associations and the national and local authorities who are collaborating closely in ensuring the safe return of spectators to the stadium," UEFA said in a statement.

"Several of the host countries had already incorporated Euro 2020 in the rollout of their national recovery strategy.  In addition, in planning the Euro 2020 final tournament, UEFA has worked closely with the World Health Organisation to adapt the WHO COVID-19 risk assessment tool for Euro 2020."

The tournament, which was postponed last year due to the pandemic, is set to begin on June 11 with the game between Italy and Turkey in Rome.

Anthony Martial could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed. 

The forward suffered a knee injury in France's World Cup qualifying win over Kazakhstan last weekend.

Should he miss the rest of United's 2020-21 campaign, it seems unlikely he would return to full fitness in time for the rescheduled Euro 2020, which kicks off on June 11. 

Speaking ahead of United's Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Sunday, Solskjaer said: "Unfortunately, he sprained his knee with France.

"It's always when they go away on internationals… you can keep your fingers crossed and hope they come back fit.

"Losing Anthony for what might be the rest of the season is very disappointing, especially when reports from there [France] was that it wasn't anything serious, but it looks a bad one."

Hansi Flick hailed his side's "mentality" after they moved seven points clear at the Bundesliga summit with a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig on Saturday. 

Leon Goretzka's third goal in his last four top-flight games proved the difference at the Red Bull Arena as Bayern took a significant step towards a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title. 

It marked the 62nd consecutive match in which Bayern have found the back of the net, setting a new record in Germany football since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963. 

Bayern did not have it all their own way against Leipzig, who had 14 shots to their nine, and Flick acknowledged his side had to use all of their mental strength to claim all three points against their second-placed hosts. 

"It was a top game and Leipzig showed why they are right up there," he told Sky. "We were on the trigger right from the start. 

"We didn't play forward as we would have wanted, but the goal was played out nicely. Leipzig caused us some problems, but the morale and mentality of my players is really excellent."

Goretzka's goal was created by Thomas Muller, who has now been involved in 11 goals in his last 10 Bundesliga games (four goals, seven assists). 

The 31-year-old has not played for Germany since November 2018 after being deemed surplus to requirements by Joachim Low.

However, there have been growing calls for him to be recalled for the rescheduled Euro 2020 at the end of the domestic season. 

Flick praised Muller for his "sensational" campaign, but said he did not want to influence Low, who he was assistant to between 2006 and 2014.

"I don't have to interfere," he added. "Thomas Muller is playing a sensational season. He can be important for other teams too, but in the end it has to be decided by Jogi. 

"He pushes his team-mates again and again, also in training. I am glad that we have such players in our ranks."

No side leading the Bundesliga by at least seven points after 27 games has failed to go on and win the title, but goalscorer Goretzka is refusing to get carried away.

"There are still 21 points to be awarded," he said. "It was a big step, but not the decisive one."

Bayern host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday before welcoming Union Berlin to the Allianz Arena in the Bundesliga four days later.

Daley Blind is hopeful he can be fit in time for the Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign after being ruled out for the rest of Ajax's season with an ankle injury.

The 31-year-old sustained the damage during the second half of Tuesday's 7-0 World Cup 2022 qualifying victory over Gibraltar.

Blind was initially feared to have suffered knee ligament damage in the awkward fall, which left him wincing in pain and in need of a stretcher.

However, the versatile defender underwent a scan on Thursday and it was confirmed he has avoided a long-term lay-off, but he is unlikely to play again for Ajax this campaign.

Ajax provided an update on their official website and Blind said: "Today, after an examination in the hospital it turned out that fortunately there is no damage to the knee, but that the front ankle ligament of my left ankle is torn.

"I assume that my season at Ajax is over. I will have an operation next week. If everything goes well during rehabilitation, I hope that I can still make it to the Euros this summer."

"Of course I am terribly disappointed. You play football to win trophies and those trophies will be won in the coming months. Of course, I wanted to be there. It has been a wonderful season with Ajax so far. That now ends very abruptly for me."

Ajax are 11 points clear of PSV at the top of the Eredivisie, face Roma in the last eight of the Europa League and are into the final of the KNVB Beker, where Vitesse await later this month.

Vice-captain Blind has featured 34 times for Ajax in 2020-21 and started all three of the his country's World Cup qualifiers.

Fellow Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk is also in a race against time to be fit for the delayed European Championship finals, which begins for the Dutch on June 13 with a clash against Ukraine in Amsterdam. Ukraine and Austria are also in Group C.

An emotional Igor Angelovski suggested a sensational win over Germany was comparable to European Championship success for his North Macedonia side.

In the biggest shock of the World Cup qualifying campaign so far, North Macedonia claimed a remarkable 2-1 victory in Duisberg on Wednesday.

North Macedonia are set to make their major tournament debut as an independent nation at Euro 2020 and have now also improbably boosted their Qatar 2022 hopes, sitting above Germany in Group J, three points behind early leaders Armenia.

Angelovski's men had just 30.5 per cent of possession against the 2014 World Cup winners but were clinical when their chances came.

Veteran forward Goran Pandev and midfielder Eljif Elmas scored as North Macedonia registered six goal attempts, of which three were on target.

Germany had 11 efforts but only twice found their aim, as Timo Werner incredibly missed from point-blank range after Ilkay Gundogan's penalty had pulled the hosts back level.

For triumphant head coach Angelovski, the victory was particularly precious as he reflected on a difficult time in his personal life.

"What can I tell you? I can't, out of emotion, out of happiness," he said. "We made the North Macedonians proud and happy. This is like winning the European Championship.

"I came here with these guys because they promised to celebrate. My wife was in the hospital, she had COVID-19 symptoms, luckily she's better now.

"The kids were giving me support. Thank you all. What more can I say? Just to cry."

Unsurprisingly, 37-year-old record goalscorer Pandev - once a Champions League winner with Inter - was picked out for special praise.

He scored with his only shot from his sole touch inside the Germany box but crucially provided an outlet, his average position the furthest forward of any North Macedonia player.

"Pandev is an amazing man, the leader of this team," Angelovski said. "They fought like lions to write the history of their state; I'm proud of these guys."

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