REPINO, Russia (Reuters) - England manager Gareth Southgate has told his players the starting line-up for Monday’s World Cup Group G opener against Tunisia and is hoping to keep it secret until shortly before kick off.
Southgate confirmed to ITV on Saturday that the players now knew who would start and who would be on the bench for the game in Volgograd.
Saturday’s training session was kept behind closed doors as the players worked on specific tactical preparation for the match but midfielder Fabian Delph said they had been given the line-up.
“I do know the team but I am not allowed to tell you,” Delph said with a grin at the daily news conference.
“We were working on specific things and the lads are ready to go,” added the Manchester City player, who is expected to be among the substitutes.
“The preparation is still the same, we are a team, it is all about the team and everybody sticks together - the manager chooses the best team to face the opponent,” he said.
Managers usually like to keep their starting line-ups close to their chest to avoid giving their rivals a heads-up of their tactical approach but Delph said there was not a risk of a leak now the team was known.
He believes some players will be glad to have time to prepare themselves mentally for a starting role.
“No, I don’t think it will leak out. I think for certain players, they would probably would like to know so they can get themselves prepared,” Delph said.
British media have speculated that Southgate is likely to start with Raheem Sterling in attack alongside Harry Kane with Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy on the bench.
In defence, Ashley Young is expected to get the nod at left back ahead of Danny Rose with Kieran Trippier on the opposite flank.
Leicester City’s Harry Maguire could start on the left of a trio of central defenders with John Stones in the middle and Kyle Walker on the right.
Jordan Henderson of Liverpool is believed to be the holding midfielder with Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli in more advanced roles.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford, who has been given the number one jersey, is expected to start in goal.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge