Gareth Southgate: Media put England at 'disadvantage' by publishing team sheet
Gareth Southgate has accused the media of putting England at a "disadvantage" after assistant Steve Holland was pictured holding a piece of paper that appeared to show the projected starting XI against Panama.
The paper, which suggested Raheem Sterling will be benched in favour of Marcus Rashford for Sunday's game in Nizhny Novgorod, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing the injured Dele Alli in midfield, was photographed in Holland's hand during a training session in Repino.
Southgate took issue with the media for publishing the photograph and said journalists covering England must decide whether they want to help or hinder his team at the World Cup.
"It is a squad of 23 names on the sheet, the next sheet has different players in different positions because we swap people in and swap people out, he told talkSPORT.
"The stories are then run as they are. For me, no drama. Obviously any time, if we were to give the opposition the opportunity of having our team, it's a disadvantage to us.
"So of course our media have to decide whether they want to help the team or not. But given that was just a squad list, it doesn't make any difference to us, really."
Southgate said the piece of paper did not necessarily show his final selection to face Panama, but confirmed that Alli has only a "slim chance" of being available because of a thigh problem picked up during the 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday.
The Spurs midfielder played 80 minutes before being replaced by Loftus-Cheek in Volgograd, but was sent for a scan this week and did not train with the rest of the England squad on Friday.
Weird comments by Southgate. The media's role is to report, not 'help the team.' Those not 'helping the team' are the ones who leak it to the media in the first place. And if a coach has it on a piece of paper in front of the cameras, well...— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) June 22, 2018
Defender Kyle Walker said that he expected the England players to be told the confirmed team to face Panama on Saturday.
Asked how journalists could help England, Walker said: "I think if you guys just try and keep it to yourself and don't bring it out to the world because it's not going to help us come the later stage of the tournament -- please God we get there -- because all the rest of the world are seeing that team now, if that is the team or if not.
"You guys have to do your do your little bit, so if you could just please help us in that and be a bit polite."
Walker also said that Holland apologised to the players after the list was revealed.
"Steve apologised. It was just before training, just before we went out and did our warm-up," Walker said. "He gave his apologies and said it was the first time he had messed up in 20 years, which we had a bit of a laugh about because his refereeing skills are not great!
"It was a bit of banter, we move on and are looking forward to the game now."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.