Gareth Southgate and Kyle Walker called for the country’s media to get behind the team at the World Cup after England assistant manager Steve Holland’s training notes were published.
A week that started with a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia will end with the Three Lions’ penultimate Group G match against Panama on Sunday.
Preparations for that match have been overshadowed by speculation about the line-up after assistant Holland was pictured on Thursday holding a note that appeared to outline England’s plans for Nizhny Novgorod.
The sheet spotted in training seemingly showed that Ruben Loftus-Cheek would come in for the injured Dele Alli against Panama, with Marcus Rashford replacing Raheem Sterling at the front of the 3-5-2.
The significance of that note remains to be seen, but right-back Walker revealed assistant Holland apologised to the squad for his part after manager Southgate questioned whether it was right to publish the photo.
“It doesn’t bother me in the slightest,” the England boss told talkSPORT.
“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.
“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.”
England defender Walker echoed Southgate’s sentiments and called for the togetherness within the squad to extend to the media.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“I feel this time around in this tournament, especially leading up to the tournament, the media has been great.
“I think we’ve got a good connection with them now and it’s a lot better than what it has been in the past.
“But it’s still a work in progress.
“It has been a lot of years where it has been a little bit difficult, but even playing darts now (in the media centre), we’re getting to interact with each other and it’s good fun.”
Walker claims the squad “don’t have a clue” about the starting line-up for Panama, despite Holland feeling the need to apologise for the note ahead of training on Friday.
“I don’t really care, like that wasn’t the team,” the defender said, “We don’t know the team so until I know the team I can’t really comment on that.
“If I thought that was the team I’d say ‘OK, it’s not really helped us, guys’.
“But Steve cleared it up this morning in training and he has apologised to us all, which we had a bit of banter with him about and that was it. We just knocked it on the head.
“It was just before training, just before we went out and did our warm up.
“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.”
Walker expects the line-up for Panama to be revealed to the players on Saturday and hopes everybody gets behind the team moving forwards.
“I think it’s the nation’s job,” the Manchester City defender added.
“We’re England, we’re all one nation and we all want to do well.
“If that’s on the pitch, coaching staff, fans or anything, we all want to do well and want England to get right to the later stages and all being (well) win it.”