Alli hands England boss Southgate a big injury boost

Good news for England: Alli could return sooner than expected

Dele Alli will be fit to play against Belgium – but he is not a risk Gareth Southgate is willing to take this weekend.

The Tottenham midfielder picked up a thigh strain in England’s 2-1 winning start to the World Cup on Monday.

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He played on despite the heavy knock against Tunisia before coming off midway through the second half.

Thigh strain: Dele Alli is set to sit out England’s game with Panama

Fears were growing that he would miss both this Sunday’s game with Panama and the group decider with Roberto Martinez’s team next week.

But Alli is expected to be fit – and may even be on the bench this weekend.

Alli trained in Repino on Thursday, although it is understood he didn’t do any contact work. He completed a routine training session, performed running drills and lunges with physiotherapist Steve Kemp.

World Cup Group G (PA)

That came as a big boost to Southgate, who feared he may be out for longer.

It’s expected that Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the Chelsea player, will take his place but Southgate still has a big decision to make in attack.

Will he stick with out-of-form Raheem Sterling, or hand a start to Marcus Rashford who came off the bench to inspire against Tunisia.