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England V Panama: Countdown to kick-off

POSTED ON 22 JUNE 2018

After their dramatic late win against Tunisia in Volgograd, England’s attention now turns to Sunday’s match against fellow Group G side Panama

If England are to witness scenes like those in the 91st minute against Tunisia, Manager Gareth Southgate will need to be careful with his celebrations after he dislocated his shoulder earlier in the week.

The 47-year-old was left in “agony” after he tripped while on a 10k run near the Three Lions’ training camp in Repino.

“I might not be celebrating any goals as athletically in future!” joked Southgate, who was treated in a nearby hospital with the assistance of team doctor, Rob Chakraverty.

“The doc has made it clear that punching the air is not an option.

“We have got such a great support team and they were there very quickly. They were supposed to be relaxing because we let the players have a bit of time off and I am causing them work.”

Southgate and England fans will be relieved it wasn’t a player who suffered a serious injury. The England camp have been sweating on the fitness of young midfielder Dele Alli, after he picked up an injury during the Tunisia game.

Alli has missed training during the week, but was seen running during Thursday’s training session. Speculation suggests that England may rest the 22-year-old for the all-important game against Belgium next week.

The question on everyone’s lips is how England will start. Aside from Dele Alli, there are no fresh injury concerns for England. Assistant Manager Steve Holland was pictured clutching some notes on Thursday which appeared to show the starting XI.

The notes indicated Raheem Sterling could be dropped to the bench while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could replace the injured Dele Alli.

“We just focus on what comes out of the manager’s mouth,” said defender Trent Alexander-Arnold.

“We haven’t been directly told who’s starting and who’s not, so all positions are up for grabs.

“Until the manager names the team it doesn’t matter what’s leaked because the lads don’t pay any notice to that kind of thing.”

What can England expect against Panama?

Panama, a country with a population of just four million people, declared a national bank holiday when they qualified for this year’s World Cup at the expense of USA.

This is their first ever World Cup and their passionate national anthem before the Belgium match was a proud moment for the nation.

They suffered a 3-0 defeat to Belgium in their opening group game, meaning Sunday’s game against England will be a must win for the national side if they want any chance of progressing through the group stages.

Despite conceding three goals to Belgium, Panama could prove difficult to break down for the young England side, so Harry Kane and co will need patience and creativity to get through Panama’s physically tough defence.

England vs Panama is live on BBC One from 12:10pm BST.

 

Image source: England.Football.

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