Wahbi Khazri winning fitness fight to face England but admits Ramadan has hit preparation

Wahbi Khazri
Wahbi Khazri

Wahbi Khazri says he hopes to be fit to face England in Tunisia's World Cup opener - but admits he may not be able to play the full 90 minutes.

Sunderland winger Khazri has been struggling with a thigh injury that he picked up a couple of months ago while on loan at Rennes.

Khazri is Tunisia's most influential player and has been training hard as he tries to prove his fitness before their opening Group G game of the competition against Gareth Southgate's side next Sunday.

And he says he expects to be fit for the crunch game, although he may not be 100 per cent.

"I'm fine. Better every time,' the 27-year-old said. "I am already training with my team-mates. I feel pretty good. I'm happy to go back to work and play.

"I may not be able to play the 90 minutes but what really matters is that I can help the Tunisia national team. I'm not the leader, it's the whole team.

"We are aware that we have a really tough group. We know that the favorites to advance to the second round are Belgium and England, but we have a good team, which plays well [together]. Let's fight for it.

"We are very focused and working together to achieve what we have set as our goal. We want to win all the matches that we will play.

"Everyone knows it will be a difficult task, but let's try it."

Tunisia's preparations haven't been helped by the timing of Ramadan this year, running from May 16 to the opening weekend of the World Cup.

The squad will continue to abstain from eating or drinking during daylight hours until the end of the Muslim holy month, which comes just four days before they meet Gareth Southgate's side in Volgograd on June 18.

"It is very difficult," admitted Khazri. "We cannot eat or drink [when we want]. It is very complicated to prepare as we want."

Meanwhile Khazri, who looks set to leave Sunderland this summer, says he isn't focusing on his future until after the World Cup.

there has been speculation linking the player with a move to Roma, but his agent quashed that talk.

Khazri looks set for a return to France after his successful loan spell at Rennes, who hope to make the move permanent, though they have competition from Ligue 1 heavyweights Marseille and Lyon.

Khazri himself told Spanish media he would welcome the opportunity to play in La Liga, but says talks about his possible destination are on hold.

He added: "If I’m honest, it’s not something I’m thinking about now.

"I do not want to talk about my future now because I’m focused on the Tunisia national team. My head is only in the World Cup in Russia to try to do my best.

"After playing with my country, I do not know what will happen.

"I think the Spanish is the best league in the world. There are teams like Real Madrid that wins the Champions League every year.

"There is also Atletico de Madrid and Barcelona – it is the best competition in the world. How would I not like to play in the league?"