Dele Alli remains a major doubt for England’s World Cup clash against Panama despite returning to training ahead of today’s Group G clash.
The Tottenham midfielder, pictured right, suffered a minor thigh injury against Tunisia and has been rated as “unlikely” to feature in Nizhny Novgorod by England boss Gareth Southgate.
While Alli took to the field alongside his team-mates yesterday morning, he participated in the warm-up before carrying out individual drills away from the main group. England were completing their final preparations at the Spartak Zelenogorsk stadium before flying to Nizhny Novgorod.
Alli helped England clinch a 2-1 victory in their World Cup opener on Monday, when he looked set to come off in the first half after suffering a knock.
Fabian Delph was stripped and seemingly ready to come on, but Alli managed 80 minutes before eventually being replaced.
A scan confirmed a quad injury that needed to be managed this week.
Meanwhile, Panama manager Hernan Dario Gomez made light of the drama surrounding England’s leaked training notes by naming his own starting XI on the eve of the match.
Southgate has questioned the English media’s decision to publish pictures which hinted a possible team for today’s clash in Nizhny Novgorod, suggesting it could provide rival teams with an advantage. But Gomez has no such qualms and revealed within seconds of his pre-match press conference that he would be retaining the same side which lost 3-0 to Belgium.
“The line-up will be exactly the same,” he said. “I like how my team worked. The team that starts the match is the one with the most experience, that’s one of our assets. As a starting XI we are very organised and tactical.”
The veteran Colombian coach, who is at his third World Cup, also dismissed the notion that an early tip-off about Harry Kane’s strike partner – be it Raheem Sterling or Marcus Rashford – helped his cause.
“It doesn’t give me or afford me any advantage,” he said.
“I think each and every coach needs to make sure they’re 100 per cent prepared and ready regardless of the opposition.
“It doesn’t matter who plays, because if one doesn’t play the other is just as good.”
Gomez has a healthy respect for Gareth Southgate’s side, ranking them as a tougher proposition than the higher-ranked Belgians.
Yet he was quick to point out that Panama are not in Russia for the ride and will be fighting to overturn every expectation of what they can achieve at their first World Cup.
“England are going to be our hardest match by far,” he said.
“They don’t have a lot of individual stars like Belgium and [Eden] Hazard, but they work well as a team, especially on ball recovery. This is going to be a very tough nut to crack.”