The highly anticipated draw for the 2018 World Cup finals has been made live from the Kremlin and Wahbi Khazri’s Tunisia have been drawn in the same group as England. The Sunderland-owned man may yet be pitted against former Black Cat Jordan Pickford.
Gareth Southgate’s men will also face Belgium and Panama as the tournament gets underway next June. England haven’t played Tunisia since the 1998 World Cup when they ran out 2-0 winners. Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes were the scorers
Only two current Sunderland players are likely to appear in Russia. Left back Bryan Oviedo is certain to be named in the Costa Rica squad, barring inury, whilst Khazri will be with Tunisia though there’s a strong possibility he won’t be a Black Cats player by the time the global tournament kicks off.
Khazri is on a season-long loan with French club Stade Rennais and whilst the Ligue 1 outfit have no automatic purchase option to buy, it seems probable that Sunderland will sell the Tunisian playmaker next summer.
Oviedo’s Costa Rica will face Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia in Group E.
Central defender Papy Djilobodji - presently with FCO Dijon - may have an outside chance of being called up by Senegal. The 28-year-old hasn’t played for his country since 2015 after a fall out with coach Aliou Cissé but his present form in the French league is attracting praise and may yet lead to a return to the international fold.
Former Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is sure to be on the plane to Russia whilst ex-striker Jermain Defoe may have a chance of a call-up.
England are currently 15th in the FIFA World Rankings whilst Tunisia are 27th. Costa Rica are 26th and Senegal sit at 23rd.