England's Alli says offensive gesture was 'joke'

England manager Gareth Southgate saw his side struggle to break down Malta

England manager Gareth Southgate saw his side struggle to break down Malta

Should Alli be dealt a similar ban, he could miss England's final two World Cup qualifiers and the first two games of the finals in Russian Federation if England win their group, or the UEFA playoff tie instead if England finish second.

Thankfully, Gareth Southgate was on hand to clear up any confusion after the final whistle, explaining that Alli was simply engaging in a private in-joke with former Tottenham pal Kyle Walker, who was positioned just over the referee's shoulder. Apologies for any offence caused!

Southgate will be hoping to avoid any sanctions, as he was bombarded with questions about the incident in his post match press conference.

The Football Association are confident they can prove Dele Alli's explanation of his middle-finger salute if they are asked to do so by Fifa.

"Dele and Kyle Walker were messing about and Dele made the gesture towards Kyle", he said.

Alli denied the gesture was aimed at the referee, claiming it was for his team mate Kyle Walker.

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"I don't know what the angle picked up by the camera is, so I don't know if that is clear".

Enland manager Gareth Southgate also cleared up the situation by confirming that the middle finger salute was Alli and Walker "messing about", before adding that the pair have "a odd way of communicating".

The player missed the Premier League title run-in in 2015-16 after punching West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob, and was sent off for a risky foul on Gent's Brecht Dejaegere during a Europa League game in February 2016.

The England keeper said: "The world is watching and Dele appreciates that".

"If David spoke to Dele, I'm sure he would tell him, "You don't want to get on the wrong side of this, you don't want to be trying to resurrect your career because it really isn't fun".

"Luckily it was after the watershed but kids are watching, Dele appreciates that".

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