Nizhniy Novgorod (Russia) (AFP) – Raheem Sterling kept his place in England’s starting line-up for Sunday’s Group G clash against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod despite suggestions he would be dropped for Marcus Rashford.
Gareth Southgate made only one change from the team that beat Tunisia 2-1, drafting in Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek for the injured Dele Alli.
There had been speculation that Sterling would be replaced by Manchester United’s Rashford after Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland was pictured with a piece of paper showing an apparent line-up for Sunday’s game, with the Manchester City star omitted.
That prompted a row about the role of the media, with some questioning why the photograph had been published. Southgate played down the issue on Saturday.
England are seeking three points that would secure their place in the last 16 and also take Belgium through.
Panama boss Hernan Gomez picked the same team that lost 3-0 to Belgium in their opener.
The Central American team, who picked up five yellow cards in that game, will be knocked out along with Tunisia if they lose.
Starting line-ups for the World Cup Group G match between England and Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday (1200 GMT kick-off):
Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones; Harry Maguire; Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Hareem Sterling, Harry Kane (capt)
Coach: Gareth Southgate (Eng)
Jaime Penedo; Michael Murillo, Roman Torres (capt), Fidel Escobar, Eric Davis; Gabriel Gomez, Edgar Barcenas, Armando Cooper, Anibal Godoy, Jose Luis Rodriguez; Blas Perez
Coach: Hernan Gomez (COL)
Referee: Ghead Grisha (EGY)