Raheem Sterling will be dropped for England’s clash against Panama on Sunday after Gareth Southgate’s planned starting line-up was photographed today.
The Manchester City forward put in a disappointing display against Tunisia on Monday night before being replaced by in-form striker Marcus Rashford in the 68th minute. And the Manchester United forward, who scored in the final warm-up fixture against Costa Rica at the start of the month, appears to have been given the nod to start up front alongside captain Harry Kane for the Panama encounter.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek will also be given an opportunity to showcase his talents from the start in another surprise call made by Southgate. The 22 year-old came on for the final ten minutes in England’s World Cup opener and will come in for Dele Alli, who has been ruled out with a thigh strain.
These are likely to be the only two changes from the win over Tunisia, with Jordan Henderson preferred to Eric Dier, and Harry Maguire playing alongside Kyle Walker and John Stones in the centre of defence.
The news will surely come as a blow to Sterling following a hugely successful season at Manchester City, scoring 18 goals as they Citizens won the Premier League with a record amount of points.
However, his England record has always been a concern scoring only two goals in nearly 40 games for his country. Rashford, on the other hand, has scored more goals in half the amount of games.
Loftus-Cheek, meanwhile, has seen a dramatic rise from the peripheries of the Chelsea squad to the international stage. The Crystal Palace midfielder was uncapped for England in November, and a start against Tunisia will be only his sixth appearance for his country.
A win for England at Sunday lunchtime (1pm kick-off BST) would surely earn the Three Lions qualification to the last-16 stage, while fellow World Cup contenders Belgium take on Tunisia in the other game in Group G.
Expected England line-up vs Panama: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Henderson, Lingard, Loftus-Cheek, Young; Kane (c), Rashford.