Manchester City star Raheem Sterling could find himself dropped for England’s World Cup clash with Panama on Sunday if a snapshot of Gareth Southgate’s notebook from Wednesday’s training session is a true indication of the manager’s plans for the game.
Sterling partnered Harry Kane up front during England’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in the Group G opener on Monday night, but a host of missed opportunities saw his place called into question.
And given the way that both Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek performed after coming off the bench, Southgate appears to be weighing up his options.
Whether intentionally or not, a photographer present at training managed to snap a picture of Southgate’s notes, which appeared to show a first XI with secondary options for each position.
Rashford is listed up front alongside Kane, with Jamie Vardy as the back up, while Loftus-Cheek was put in midfield, with Sterling left out.
Dele Alli was another not listed in the potential starting team. The 22-year-old Tottenham star has been struggling with a thigh injury since the Tunisia game, missing consecutive days of training, and it appears that Southgate may not be willing to risk him unnecessarily.
Aside from the two potential changes, it looks as though Southgate will keep the same team that faced Tunisia. That means places for Jordan Pickford, Kieran Tripper, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane.
Following the Panama game, England will then face Belgium in a clash that could well decide who tops Group G. Whoever qualifies will subsequently go on to face the winners and runners-up from Group H – either Senegal, Japan, Colombia or Poland.
Senegal and Japan were surprise winners in the opening round of Group H games.