LONDON: England manager Gareth Southgate expects Dele Alli to be fit for Tottenham’s clash against Liverpool on Saturday after the midfielder was forced to withdraw from the squad to face Switzerland.
Alli was injured in England’s Nations League defeat against Spain on Saturday and has pulled out of Tuesday’s friendly with the Swiss in Leicester.
But Southgate played down fears of a long absence for Alli, insisting the 22-year-old will recover from the slight knock in time to play for Tottenham in their showdown with Premier League leaders Liverpool.
“He has just had a minor strain and should be fine for his club at the weekend I would think, but tomorrow’s game will come too quickly,” Southgate told reporters on Monday.
Southgate will make a host of changes against Switzerland because he would rather look at potential players who can feature in his long-term plans rather than worry about results in a largely meaningless friendly.
The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Fabian Delph, Danny Rose and Danny Welbeck could all come into a new-look team alongside goalkeeper Jack Butland.
“I’m comfortable in my own skin,” Southgate said. “That focus will come on me and I’m not concerned about it. Otherwise I’d make decisions just to boost my win record.
“We’re in a position now where it will help them at their clubs to get minutes with us. We’re trying to help them develop.
“A lot of the guys coming into the team (against Switzerland) have had zero minutes for their clubs. Ultimately the right thing is to give them game time, give them international matches, that’s the reason we do it. It’s important they all feel involved.”
Southgate, who led England to their best World Cup finish since 1990 in the summer, once again refused to confirm whether he will sign a new contract with the Football Association.
The former Middlesbrough is currently under contract until after Euro 2020 and the FA are willing to extend that deal.
But Southgate has been coy when asked if he is ready to commit his long-term future to his country.
“We have had initial discussions as I said, that has been it,” he said.
“For me I have to focus on the job in hand. I am contracted for the next 22 months and my focus is on tomorrow night and then building this team to be as competitive as it can be.
“This summer was an incredible experience for everybody, so they are the games that everyone wants to be involved in, beyond that I don’t want to get into details because that will be a distraction ahead of the game.”
Despite their impressive World Cup performance, England go into Tuesday’s game against the Swiss aiming to avoid four successive defeats for the first time in their history following losses against Croatia, Belgium and Spain.
“Not many England sides have played a World Cup semi-final and third-placed play-off so these stats can be whatever you want them to be really,” Southgate added.
“From our point of view we don’t want to be in the habit of losing matches but to play three teams of the quality we have in the last three matches is a very rare occurrence in international football so we have to focus on our performances, and improving as a team.
“Statistics can be whatever you want them to be. I’ll have to live with whatever people want to say about my record.”—AFP