Dele Alli was selected in England’s squad for its final two World Cup qualifiers while he awaits a ruling by FIFA’s disciplinary body regarding an obscene gesture the midfielder made during a recent international game.
The case will be heard at a disciplinary meeting that concludes Thursday, with a verdict possibly being announced on Friday.
“We run the risk of looking a shambles because he could get withdrawn again,” England manager Gareth Southgate said.
“Our hope is that common sense prevails.”
The 21-year-old Alli made a gesture in England’s 2-1 win over Slovakia this month, a result that moved the team five points clear in Group F. He said it was not directed at the referee but at teammate Kyle Walker, with Southgate saying at the time that the two players “have a strange way of communicating.”
A three-match ban would rule Alli out of the upcoming qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania, as well as potentially the first game of next year’s World Cup in Russia should England qualify.
“He is a young player, a young man, and young people are always going to make mistakes,” Southgate said. “For certain, he knows something that happened that night won’t happen again.”
A win over Slovenia on Oct. 5 would secure an automatic spot in the finals.
England called up Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph for the first time in nearly two years. Delph, who has struggled for game time at City because of injuries and fierce competition for places, has played out of position at left back for Manchester City in recent games and may continue in that role following an injury to Benjamin Mendy.
“He’s obviously at a club where chances have been limited,” Southgate said of Delph, “but he’s dug in and forced his way into their side, and is playing well. We have a situation in midfield were we need to have more competition for places.”
Striker Jamie Vardy was left out because he will require an injection on a hip injury after Leicester’s match against Bournemouth on Saturday, which will rule him out of the game against Slovenia.
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand, Gary Cahill, Aaron Cresswell, Phil Jones, Michael Keane, Harry Maguire, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Dele Alli, Fabian Delph, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Jake Livermore, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling
Strikers: Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Daniel Sturridge