Dele Alli won’t feature for England against Panama because of a thigh injury, Gareth Southgate confirmed, but the manager did let his team know who would be starting in their second Group G match at the World Cup on Sunday.
Alli, 22, picked up the knock in England’s 2-1 opener against Tunisia on Monday and missed training the following day to undergo a scan. He is likely to be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who came on for the Tottenham attacker in the 80th minute and played well.
Southgate said: “This morning he followed the exact programme we had planned. He started training with the rest of the group and then did some more running on his own, so he’s progressing really well.
“We’re really pleased with where he is at, but he wouldn’t be ready for the game tomorrow.”
There will also be plenty of intrigue around the rest of Southgate’s starting XI against their CONCACAF foe after a picture of assistant Steve Holland’s notes from England training on Thursday appeared to show that Raheem Sterling would be dropped for Marcus Rashford.
Southgate said he let his team know who would would start against Panama, but played down the controversy over the leaded lineup and said his goal right now was to stay focused on the next match — in which England could secure a spot in the round of 16 — while also keeping everyone in the squad involved whether they are playing or on the bench.
“I think it’s huge,” said Southgate. “More than anything I think for the guys who aren’t in the team tomorrow or who haven’t been in the team for either game.
“I’ve fulfilled that role and know how difficult it is.
“We’ve got some young lads for who it’s no doubt going to be just as challenging, in a different way, as it is to the senior lads who are used to playing.
“But I’ve got to say we’ve got some brilliant top professionals who are coping really well with that, both in their approach to training and in the conversations they have around the team.
“But there’s no doubt the further we go in the tournament the more carefully that dynamic needs to be handled by myself and the staff. And I think it’s key to teams doing well at tournaments.”
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