England manager Gareth Southgate admits he has been left puzzled by the full facts of Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood's quarantine breach and revealed the pair would have been dropped regardless of any safety concerns.
Foden, 20, and Greenwood, 18, were sent home after inviting two women to the team hotel in Reykjavik on Sunday, 24 hours after both players made their senior debuts in the 1-0 Nations League win over Iceland.
Although neither man left the hotel, they broke the squad's bio-secure bubble by going to a different part of the building not exclusively assigned to England, where they hosted two local women, one of whom Greenwood was allegedly messaging online beforehand.
Southgate spoke on Monday afternoon just a few hours after learning of the breach as a full Football Association investigation was underway. He admitted he was not at that stage yet to get to the bottom of the incident beyond recognising the immediate need to isolate the duo from the rest of the squad to remain COVID-19 compliant.
However, speaking after Tuesday night's 0-0 draw against Denmark, Southgate opened up about his frustration at both players' willingness to disregard the strict coronavirus protocols in place but, more significantly, the pre-meditated decision to break standard team rules by inviting women into the hotel.
"I don't really understand how players could have felt that was acceptable," he said. "That is a puzzle to me at the moment. What's clear is we talked about a [coronavirus] breach and initially, that was 100% what we needed to take control of. We had to act quickly.
"We had to make sure that we got the right decision. Clearly, what's emerged since that whether there had been a [COVID-19] situation or not, we would have been sending the players home anyway. Everybody else needs to understand that is not going to be tolerated in an England camp."
Both players have since apologised privately and publicly. Foden's actions were deemed "totally inappropriate" by his club, Manchester City, while Manchester United said they were "disappointed" by Greenwood's behaviour.
"I'll make a decision on that," he said. "There's a lot of trust to be built. My mindset is not to hurt these boys any more.
"They are going through that with their family and friends. I don't need to add to that. I've spoken to both of them. They know what's happened is unacceptable.
"It was unacceptable on a [COVID-19] basis, but as I've learned more details, it was unacceptable on any basis, so either way they would have gone home.
"Equally, they are young men. The consequence has been there. And they need support because everyone is wading in on them. They need help to rebuild.
"They need to understand the expectations of being an England player. We've got to help them on that process. That's going to take time."