Wednesday great Carlton Palmer has called on England boss Gareth Southgate to drop Dele Alli from his starting XI for their World Cup quarter-final showdown with Sweden today.
Tottenham Hotspurs playmaker Alli has been struggling with a left thigh strain in the tournament, with the knock ruling him out of England’s group matches with Panama and Belgium.
Alli returned to the team against Colombia on Tuesday night but failed to make an impact and appeared hampered at times by the injury.
With the Three Lions chasing a first appearance in the semi-finals of the World Cup since 1990, ex-England international Palmer believes Alli should make way for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
He said: “Personally, I would start Loftus-Cheek against the Swedes.
“He is a big lad and [Dele] Alli is not looking fit and I would leave him out and would look at getting him back fully fit, should we get further in the tournament.”
England defeated Colombia on penalties in the last 16 to record a first knockout stage win at a major tournament in 12 years.
“I said I fancied England from the start to go to the quarters or semi-finals,” said Palmer. “I think they have a good side with a good balance.
“I am sure Gareth [Southgate] will have gone away from the game on Tuesday and looked at where we can improve. I thought we dominated the game until we conceded a silly goal.
“You look at world football and such as Spain, who dominated their game and then Gerard Pique gave a needless penalty away by not defending properly. Then Spain found themselves in a game where they could have gone out after dominating and it was the same for England.
“But they kept their composure and kept playing. [Rahem] Sterling for me has not set the World Cup alight and that is a change that needs to be made.
“Delle Ali did not look fit to me, so there are a couple of changes he can make. I thought the rest of the team played very well. I am just hoping that Ashley Young and Kyle Walker have nothing more than cramp.m
“I thought Ashley and Kyle were terrific.”