Chelsea Youngster Set For World Cup Start as England Look to Secure Place in Last 16 With Panama Win

??Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek is in line to make his first World Cup start against Panama on Sunday, with Dele Alli expected to miss out due to a minor thigh strain. 

England ran out deserved 2-1 victors against Tunisia in their World Cup opener on Monday. Having missed a number of opportunities early on, Harry Kane prodded in the first goal following a scramble in the box. Kyle Walker’s lackadaisical defending then gifted the Tunisians a penalty in the 38th minute, which Ferjani Sassi duly dispatched. 

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Following a bright first half, the Three Lions looked ponderous after the break, but Kane was once again at the rescue deep into stoppage time, heading past Farouk Ben Mustapha from close range to spark scenes of jubilation both in Volgograd and back home. 

As per the ?Guardian?Spurs midfielder Alli, who appeared to pick up an injury towards the end of the first half, underwent a scan at a private hospital in St Petersburg on Tuesday, and the results revealed the 22-year-old had suffered minor damage to his quad muscle.

The England medical staff are set to monitor his condition over the coming days, but it’s unlikely Gareth Southgate will risk playing him against Panama in England’s second group game on Sunday. 

Instead, Chelsea youngster Loftus-Cheek could be handed his first World Cup start after impressing in his 20 minute cameo performance against the Eagles of Carthage. 

The Blues midfielder, who spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace, made his international debut against Germany in November and was voted as the Three Lions’ man of the match. 

Thereafter, his season was heavily disrupted by a number of injury setbacks, but he returned to the Eagles’ starting lineup against Bournemouth in April, proving his fitness just in time to be included in Southgate’s 23-man World Cup squad. 

Tunisia v England: Group G - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

If Tunisia fail to beat Belgium on Saturday and England then defeat Panama the following day, Southgate’s side will have secured their place in the round of 16. The subsequent game against Belgium in Kaliningrad would then decide who finishes as the winners of Group G. 


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