Tottenham Hotspur and England midfielder Dele Alli has returned to training ahead of the final game in the World Cup group stages. Dele picked up a minor thigh strain during England’s first match, a 2-1 win over Tunisia, and England manager Gareth Southgate opted to rest him for Spurs’ 6-1 drubbing over Panama on Sunday.
But Dele was photographed in St. Petersburg doing light training with members of the England squad, which raised hopes that he might be fit enough to play in the final match of the group stage against co-leaders Belgium on Thursday, a side that features his Spurs teammates Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, and Mousa Dembele.
Southgate gave the press an update on Dele’s status this morning:
“Dele is progressing well. Obviously he hasn’t had the opportunity to train on the field (on Sunday), he did a different sort of session. So, we’ll know how close for the Belgium game he is after (Monday) I would think but we’re pleased with the progress so far.
”It takes pressure out of the decision in playing him in that game, but if he’s ready then it’s also a good opportunity for him.”
Previously, Southgate had indicated that he was prepared to rotate his squad against Belgium to give a number of players who either haven’t featured or who have only played a little an opportunity for World Cup minutes. Presumably that includes players such as Spurs’ Eric Dier and Danny Rose, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck.
Elsewhere, it appears Kieran Trippier was subbed off as a precautionary measure against Panama. Trippier had apparently noticed a minor injury and Southgate opted to take him off out of an abundance of caution, but the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
“Kieran was feeling a tiny twinge just towards half-time. But then came over and said he was absolutely fine but we weren’t prepared to take a chance, so we got him off.”
Trippier has been one of England’s best players in the World Cup while playing as an offensively minded wing back ahead of a back three. He created six chances for England against Tunisia and had an assist vs. Panama while becoming a consistent threat for England on set pieces and corners.