REPINO, Russia (Reuters) - England midfielder Dele Alli is backing striker Harry Kane to get the better of their Tottenham Hotspur team mate Davinson Sanchez in the last 16 clash against Colombia on Tuesday.
Central defender Sanchez will be directly up against the England captain and, while Alli was reluctant to discuss the few areas in which the former Ajax Amsterdam player can be exposed, he believes Kane will come out on top.
“I think he (Sanchez) is a great player, I don’t think any player is perfect, we know things, we know how he plays and he has a lot of strengths. We’re going to look to do as well as we can to exploit his very few weaknesses,” he told a news conference on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Sanchez has just completed his first season in the Premier League after joining Spurs in a 42 million pounds deal from Ajax and Alli said he had been hugely impressed with the Colombian’s performances.
“He’s really impressed me since he has come in – he is a great player, he is physical, he is strong, he is good on the ball,” he said.
“Davinson is a great player, he is a great guy as well. It’s hard not to support him but as players there are no friends on the pitch, you have to go out and do your job and hopefully Harry comes out on top,” added Alli.
The midfielder is now back to full fitness and in contention to regain his starting place in Gareth Southgate’s lineup.
Alli missed England’s second Group G game against Tunisia with a thigh injury and sat out the 1-0 loss to Belgium in their final match in the section.
He said that talk of England losing momentum by playing a second-string side in that defeat was wide of the mark.
“We’ve come here with a big squad and everyone is fighting for their place. It was a great opportunity and I think the boys have done well,” he said.
“I don’t think we lost any momentum. We’re all fighting, we’re all raring to go and we’re all looking forward to the next game,” he added.
The 22-year-old thought viewing England’s position in what is seen as the easier half of the draw was a trap they could not fall into. Sweden or Switzerland await in the quarter-finals.
“I think it’s very dangerous. We have to approach every game like we’re playing the best team in the world,” he said.
“These are top sides. No international game is easy. For us, we’re not focussing on the next game (after Colombia), we’ve got to get through against Colombia.
“They are a dangerous side and we have got to get through that and not look into the future,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris