Robbie Fowler would be 'amazed' if Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah was fit to take on Russia

Alex Broun 19/06/2018
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Liverpool and England legend Robbie Fowler.

Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler believes Mohamed Salah’s injury is worse than he is letting on and he would be “amazed” if the Egyptian star was fit to take on Russia this evening in St Petersburg at 22:00 (UAE Tme).

“In all honesty, anyone who has had a shoulder injury in football will tell you – it’s a tough injury to get hold of,” said Fowler at Abu Dhabi Golf Club World Cup Fan Zone on Monday.

“I was actually amazed that he made it to the (Egypt) squad for the World Cup.”

Fowler said Salah would be desperate to take his place for the Pharaohs in the do or die clash.

“He’s the type of player who doesn’t want to miss out and he’s got a lot to give,” said the former England striker.

“But I don’t know, the fact that he never played the other day (against Uruguay) tells you he’d be a lot sorer than a lot of us envisaged.

“All the talk is he’s going to be ready for the next game (today), but if he’s ready for the next game he should have been ready for the game just gone.”

However Fowler is still optimistic about Egypt’s chances in the World Cup, even without Salah, and says it’s unfair to label them as a one-man team.

“I think you’re being a bit unfair,” he said. “I know they lost the game but it could have gone either way. I thought they were a little bit unlucky Egypt to be fair (against Uruguay).

“They qualified and obviously Mo Salah is the main talisman, he’s one of those players who can get goals out of anywhere. But it’s like any team you look at – Argentina with (Lionel) Messi, you’re obviously relying on other players to come into the fold.

“You look at even Brazil – there’s a lot of pressure on the likes of (Philippe) Coutinho, there’s Neymar to come in – but you always need the player to deliver.

“So instead of like Egypt, putting all the pressure on Mo Salah to get fit and to do well and to score goals, it should never be about that.

“He never qualified on his own. As much as he scored the winning goals, it takes a little bit more than just the one man.”

The 43-year-old believes that a fully fit Salah would have a massive impact on the tournament.

“If Mo Salah was to come into this game – fully fit Mo Salah – then it would have been brilliant watching him,” he said, “and I actually believe he could’ve been the man to get them (Egypt) out of that group.

“As it turns out Russia had a great result against Saudi (a 5-0 victory) but there’s still a lot to play for, that’s why he’s maybe going to play the next game.”

Quizzed about the how Salah suffered the injury in the Champions League final, Fowler said although Sergio Ramos “knew what he was doing” he did not believe the Real Madrid defender set out to intentionally hurt the Egyptian.

“I thought Ramos as a player knew what he was doing,” said Fowler, “I’m not saying he knew what he was doing in getting him really really injured.

“He (Ramos)… wanted to stop him (Salah) from doing what he does and maybe pull him down.

“But of course, I think everyone who has played the game will tell you – yeah he’s meant to bring him down – but I don’t think he’s meant to hurt him to the capacity (extent) that he has.

“That’s just him trying to get one of the star players from Liverpool… just maybe try to get them to be quiet.

“It happens all the time in football – I wouldn’t put too much blame on him. I mean Ramos’ done it but players do it all the time. It’s just trying to get an onus on a centre forward.

“But I don’t think he’s meant to hurt him to the way he has hurt him.”

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Harry Kane and England deserved the win against Tunisia, Alan Shearer admits

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Harry Kane celebrates his second goal with Ashley Young

Alan Shearer lauded Harry Kane for scoring his first goals in a major tournament after his brace helped England get their World Cup off to a winning start against Tunisia.

Shearer, who scored when England beat Tunisia 2-0 in the 1998 World Cup, knows just how important it is for a striker to get off the mark so early in a tournament.

Kane opened the scoring in the 11th minute which a poacher’s finish before securing the win with a back post header to claim all three points for England.

Shearer believed Kane would have been desperate to get involved in the tournament after watching a number of the game’s biggest stars get amongst the goals.

“I can’t stress enough the importance (of those goals),” Shearer said on BBC1’s World Cup Match of the Day.

“He’d have sat for the last week watching Ronaldo, Griezmann and Pogba scoring goals knowing we would be talking about him and tournament football.

“The manager gave him the captain’s armband for one reason, he’s the go-to player when someone has to make a difference.

“It will give him huge confidence to get off the mark with your first goal, bring the games on.

“That’s why Gareth Southgate named him captain. When the manager is looking for someone to do something, you want the captain to do something.

“They kept going and nobody can say they didn’t deserve the win.

“It would have been so difficult for them if they didn’t get the win.”

The win put England level on three points with Belgium who beat Panama 3-0 earlier in the day.

Having named his squad early, there was pressure on manager Southgate to get off to a winning start.

And Shearer felt the performance will give Southgate and his players confidence going forward.

“It’s a great night for Gareth,” Shearer said.

“He was under huge pressure and he will look at his own performance.

“He named his squad very early and the players knew the system, now could they go about getting the result?

“We wanted England to give us a bit of hope and a performance that had energy and chances so there are plenty of positives.”

Frank Lampard was relieved to see England get off to a winning start, but wished the margin had been greater.

“Only for the chances we missed in the first half, we would have won this game before half-time,” Lampard said.

“The first game is the one to win and I fully expect us to beat Panama. 

“The crucial thing is taking the chances in this tournament.

“When you win you can put them (missed chances) to bed.

“The performance overrides that and maybe we’ll be more settled in the next game.”

Rio Ferdinand singled out Harry Maguire for his assured performance at both ends of the pitch.

“(Harry) showed personality. He made a few mistakes but he came through that,” Ferdinand said.

“That’s why he’s in the team and Gary Cahill isn’t.

“It’s about players who have the ability to bring the ball out, drag players towards them and play behind them.

“He released himself to get into attacking places.”

Gary Neville: part of the problem at the last eight tournaments

Gary Neville: part of the problem at eight of the last nine tournaments

Gary Neville believes beating Tunisia allows England to be more relaxed going into their second game with Panama.

Neville said on ITV Sport: “With five minutes to go I was worried thinking deja vu, thinking getting on that plane tonight those young players with only two who have started in a World Cup, waking up in the morning to what wouldn’t have been negative media, but an anxiety and nervousness.

“Thinking about the post-match video, thinking about the fact they have to play against Panama in a game they must win. And then the pressure builds.”

Neville admits the England squads in the past where he has been a player and a coach, have not been able to be trusted in major tournaments.

He said: “You cannot trust us. We’ve let ourselves down and I’ve been part of the problem in eight of the last nine tournaments. You cannot trust us to recover from a bad result in the opening game. It’s happened too many times.”

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England players proud of each other after last-gasp win, says Harry Kane

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Harry Kane’s relief was as clear as his joy after securing England a last-gasp victory in their World Cup opener against Tunisia.

Gareth Southgate’s men made an outstanding start to the Group G encounter in Volgograd, where the 24-year-old opened the scoring with his first major tournament goal.

But referee Wilmar Roldan controversially awarded a penalty that Ferjani Sassi converted and the video assistant referee then inexplicably overlooked Tunisia’s manhandling of Kane in the box.

Yet just as it looked set to end as a draw, the England captain nodded home to secure a 2-1 win that he hopes will make the “people in the pubs back home proud”.

“We are proud of each other,” Kane said after the Three Lions started a major tournament with a win for the first time since 2006.

“In a World Cup, you’re never sure how it’s going to go and in recent years the first games have always been difficult.

“It looked like it could be one of them nights again, but we’ve got great togetherness as I’ve said before.

“You’re always proud to see it come off in a game.

“We were talking to each other non-stop, getting each other through it. We never panicked, we never looked like conceding another, which was important, and then got we deserved at the end.”

Kane liked the way England flew out of the blocks at the Volgograd Arena, where they had to rely on character beyond their years.

“It goes to 1-1, momentum changes a bit, so I thought we recovered well from that,” he said.

“It is always in the back of your mind that it is going to be one of them days.

“The ball just wasn’t falling to our player at the right time, but that’s what the character is about.

“That’s why we work so hard to go to 90-plus minutes and thankfully we got one in the end.”

Harry Kane starred for England in their 2-1 win over Tunisia.

Harry Kane starred for England in their 2-1 win over Tunisia.

Kane was named man of the match for his display on a night when the lack of VAR was striking, particularly when the Tottenham striker was dragged down at corners by Sassi and Yassine Meriah.

“Maybe a bit disappointed by that,” he said. “Obviously when you look at the penalty they got… I’ve not seen it back, but on the pitch it looked quite soft.

“I guess that’s what VAR is there for, to look at them decisions. If they didn’t think it’s a penalty, we have to deal with that.

“For me, I struggled to get them off me. I tried to run at a few corners and just couldn’t move.

“I guess as players there’s nothing we can do about that. We just have to hope that officials are getting it right more often than not.”

And the officials were not the only irritant in Volgograd, where insects proved a nuisance throughout.

“There was a lot more than I first thought,” Kane added.

“We got told before that there was going to be quite a lot of flies and when we went out for the warm-up it was a lot more than we all kind of thought.

“We had a lot of bug spray on before the game, half-time, which was important because there was some of them in your eyes, some of them in your mouth.

“But I guess that’s part of just dealing whatever comes your way and the team coped with it well.”

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