Dele Alli: looking for more against Croatia

Moscow, Jul 10 (IANS): England's attacking midfielder Dele Alli admits he has not been at his best so far in the FIFA World Cup in Russia, but that could be bad news for Croatia when England play them in the World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Alli said he was "excited, not nervous" about the chance to help take England to their first World Cup finals appearance since they won the tournament in 1966, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Tottenham player, who began his career in the lower divisions with Milton Keynes Dons, has struggled with a thigh injury during this tournament, missing the group games against Panama and Tunisia.

He returned against Colombia in the last 16 and scored England's second goal in the 2-0 quarter-final win against Sweden on Saturday in Samara, but Alli thinks he can do better against Croatia.

"I said to my family afterwards that it was weird because I didn't feel nervous or anything like that. But you know sometimes that you can have games where your control isn't as good as it should be, or your decision-making isn't as sharp as normal. I felt like it was one of those games," said Alli, who was guilty of some wayward passes in the first 45 minutes of the Sweden match.

"I've spoken to the manager about it and some of my team-mates. I didn't feel like I was playing as well as I should have been, especially in the first half."

"Defensively, I did my job, and did what I needed to do, but I wanted to be on the ball, creating chances and being a threat. I felt like my movement was good but I just wasn't sharp enough. I didn't keep the ball as much as I should have," he explained.

Alli said he knows he "can play better than that," but added that was his "own biggest critic."

However, the bad news for Croatia is that he knows he can improve and he scored a goal.

"It gives you a lift," said Alli, who will be looking for more on Wednesday.