With England 1-0 down against Croatia in the Nations League on Sunday, Gareth Southgate’s midfield options were notable.
In the summer’s 2-1 World Cup semi-final defeat, the England manager was forced to flog the exhausted central midfield duo of Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli, who was also carrying an injury, even as the tide of the match began to turn.
That was due to lack of options, but on Sunday, both Alli and Lingard were on the substitutes bench and could be called upon to swing the game back in England’s favour.
Ross Barkley has managed to nudge his way ahead of both men to be the main creative influence at the heart of the England midfield but this weekend presents Alli with an opportunity to prove his worth once more to Southgate.
Alli’s Tottenham face Barkley’s Chelsea, meaning that the international team-mates will hope to line up against each other at Wembley.
If Alli is able to dominate against Barkley, it could go some way to pushing him back ahead of the former Everton man in Southgate’s plans.
Alli’s season is yet to fully ignite, as he has struggled with injury, while Barkley has turned his Chelsea career around; that means the former MK midfielder needs to land a major blow in the race to be England’s playmaker.