NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia, June 24 (Reuters) - England coach Gareth Southgate kept faith with Raheem Sterling up front alongside captain Harry Kane in his starting lineup for Sunday’s Group G clash with Panama in Nizhny Novgorod.
Southgate’s only change was to replace midfielder Dele Alli, who is carrying an injury but stayed on the bench, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek who made a promising substitute’s appearance in the opening 2-1 win over Tunisia.
Sterling’s retention in the team came at the expense of Marcus Rashford, whom many pundits had expected to start given his trickery late on against the Tunisians.
Panama coach Hernan Gomez kept the same line-up that lost their opener to Belgium, with dreadlocked Roman Torres the linchpin of a defence expecting a busy day.
Los Canaleros (The Canal Men) were again looking to Alberto Quintero in midfield for some creative spark to complement the speed and physicality of other players. The World Cup debutants had 37-year old striker Blas Perez leading the line up front. (Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne Editing by Pritha Sarkar)