SAINT PETERSBURG: England coach Gareth Southgate is considering starting both Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek against Panama on Sunday instead of Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli.
AFP Sport understands England want to look at Rashford up front alongside Harry Kane, and Loftus-Cheek in midfield with Jesse Lingard and Jordan Henderson.
Alli’s omission would not be a surprise given the 22-year-old picked up a thigh strain in the opening win over Tunisia.
But Sterling has been a regular starter under Southgate and his absence in Nizhny Novgorod would be a surprise, even if the Manchester City forward was guilty of missing chances in the first game.
Panama appear to be the weakest team in Group G and it is possible England are prepared to rotate, giving players such as Loftus-Cheek and Rashford a chance to impress.
Both looked bright coming off the bench against Tunisia, while Rashford scored a superb goal in a friendly against Nigeria earlier this month.
England will secure qualification to the last 16 as long as they beat Panama and Tunisia fail to secure a victory against Belgium.
Alli wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “Frustrating to have picked up a slight injury on Monday. Will do everything in my power to get back to full fitness asap!”
Southgate has had physical problems himself after the England coach dislocated his shoulder while out jogging on Wednesday.
He was not wearing a sling at training on Thursday, however, and showed no visible sign of discomfort. —AFP