Gareth Southgate sprung a surprise on the eve of England’s second match of the World Cup by hinting that Raheem Sterling would keep his place in the team ahead of Marcus Rashford.
A photo of an England team sheet appeared in many newspapers earlier this week and it was thought that this would be the team that Southgate would field against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday.
The team sheet suggested that Sterling would be dropped and replaced by the Manchester United striker Rashford, but Southgate said that the image was misleading.
“Let’s be frank, we won the other night, we played well, so we are not going to make many changes,” he said, quoted by the Daily Mail.
“Their manager knows we have to make one. But it is a personal choice. If I did it for this game having not done it for any others, it would probably be seen as disrespectful to the opponent so I’d be in another storm.
“The picture wasn’t even the team. The front sheet is always the runners and riders in training and behind that all the changes we’ll make in the session.”
The one change that England have to make is leaving out the injured Dele Alli, who will be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Southgate had initially been irate about the media jeopardising England’s chances by revealing Sunday’s team, but he was in a more placid mood on Saturday.
“I totally understand the media have a role to report the news. My only observation is that it’s definitely an advantage for us or the opposition if you know the tactics of the other team. But it’s not the job of the media to protect that,” he said.
Victory for England against Panama will seal their place in the last 16.