England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Dele Alli will sit out of the Three Lions’s Sunday match with Panama as he recovers from a thigh strain.
Alli gave Southgate a scare in the early stages of their opening match against Tunisia, but was able to continue until the 80th minute.
The Three Lions opened their World Cup campaign in Group G with a 2-1 win over Tunisia and are battling for top spot with Belgium, who clinched a big win over the North Africans on Saturday.
The Tottenham midfielder has been on the treatment table since then and his manager said he is making a good recovery, but will miss the match with Panama on Sunday.
Southgate told reporters: “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.”
The England manager believes Alli’s injury is a big chance for other players in his squad to show what they can do in the absence of Tottenham midfielder.
“I think it’s huge. More than anything I think for the guys who aren’t in the team tomorrow Sunday or who haven’t been in the team for either game,” said Southgate.
“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.”
Ruben Lofthus-Cheek is expected to take Alli’s place in the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, under fire forward Raheem Sterling also looks like he will start the Panama game despite looking short of confidence in the opening win against Tunisia.
Sterling failed to connect with a glorious chance against the Africans and faded badly in the Three Lions’ first match before being substituted in favour of Marcus Rashford in the second half.
Despite his poor showing and no goals in his last 21 international appearances, reports suggest Southgate has decided to give the misfiring forward another chance.