By Semiu Osho in London:
England manager Gareth Southgate has hinted that the duo Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard and Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli may start and play together when they host the Super Eagles of Nigeria in an international friendly match at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams will be meeting for the third time, with Nigeria yet to record a win nor score against England.
Southgate who is targetting his seventh win in his 13th game as England manager revealed in a press conference that Lingard is not in a straight fight for a first-team place with Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
Southgate has recorded four draws two defeats and six wins in 12 games.
“I don’t see it as a straight contest between any individual, absolutely they could play together,” Southgate said of Ligard and Alli during his pre-match press conference at the Grove Hotel, Watford, ahead of the game against Nigeria.
“All of our attacking players have different attributes or strengths. Jesse is a fantastic player at recognizing the space, working away from the ball, a great link between midfield and attack.”
He also revealed that Phil Jones will miss the encounter after he was allowed to leave the training camp as his partner is due to give birth to their baby.
Former Middlesbrough defender, Southgate, gave no clues as to who will be in goal for England on Saturday.
Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope are the three goalkeepers in England’s World Cup squad.
“We know what we want to see in that area and we’re clear on what we think. There’s no need for me to say too much on that publicly,” he stated.
“I’ve told the players what we’re looking for in these two matches and haven’t told them the team yet.”
On Raheem Sterling’s controversial gun tatoo, Southgate said: “Tattoos are very personal. A lot of our players have tattoos and they are wrapped up in a lot of deep stories. I don’t see why we should be involved in policing that.”
Southgate also revealed that he will not be adopting a “codes of conducts” rule in his team. He also questioned why this issue had came up on the eve of the World Cup.
He said: “I talk to all of the players at length because I think it’s important, as a coach, to get to know them and what makes them tick and what they’re about as much as possible.
“As an international manager, you don’t get as much time to have that personal contact. It’s really important to me to understand their motivations, their thoughts and their feelings on things and to feed back to them on how we see them as players and people.
“[Talking to Sterling] was nothing out of the ordinary, but when you’ve got a player that has been the centre of attention, as has happened this week, it’s important to check how they are.
“He completely understood why there might have been a perceived line on it. He knows what he meant and what it means to him. He’s comfortable that he’s done nothing wrong.”
The Three Lions will begin their World Cup campaign in Russia against Tunisia on June 18 and also play Panama and Belgium in Group G.