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England are looking to all but guarantee their place in the last 16 of the World Cup when they take on Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday.

Three points for Gareth Southgate’s side will secure their spot in the knockouts if Tunisia do not beat Belgium, who lead Group H after the first round of matches after dispatching Panama 3-0.

An injury-time goal from Harry Kane handed the Three Lions their opening victory over Tunisia in Volgograd and they are firm favourites to make it back-to-back successes in their first competitive meeting with Panama.

England’s time in Russia has largely gone smoothly but one or two concerns have seeped into Southgate’s plans over recent days.

Harry Kane receiving his man of the match award
Harry Kane receiving his man of the match award
A thigh injury to Dele Alli looks set to keep him out of the match, while a leaked team sheet appeared to show Raheem Sterling would also be left out of the match against Hernan Dario Gomez’s side, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek starting in midfield and Marcus Rashford partnering Kane in attack.

Southgate, who also suffered a dislocated shoulder this week, admonished the media at their base in Repino after the photo of the team notes emerged, casting something of a shadow over what has been a positive atmosphere among players and reporters that has even resulted in a friendly darts competition.

England struggled to break down Tunisia in the second half of their opening match and there are concerns they could find it similarly tough against a physical Panama side, who offered stout resistance against Belgium in a goalless first half.

However, defender Kyle Walker insisted on Friday that the Central American side are the ones who should be worried, saying: “We know they’re a physical team. Tunisia like to play the ball out from the back and were very patient but Panama are probably more direct.

“They need to worry about us more than we have to worry about them. We’ve men in key areas who can go and get goals at any time. If we keep the ball, keep to the style we’ve been playing, I think we’ll be fine.”

Source: Omnisport

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