Tunisia's Khazri returns while Maaloul races for fitness against England

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Tunisia winger Wahbi Khazri is back for Monday's Group G opener against England with Ali Maaloul a fitness concern for the highly-anticipated match

Khazri’s run-up to the Russia World Cup has been blighted by a thigh injury which sidelined him from competitive action since the end of April. Back then he was injured while turning out for French League 1 side Stade Rennes on loan from Sunderland.

Having also missed Tunisia’s World Cup warm-up friendlies, 27-year-old Khazri now feels geared up for battle as Tunisia prepare to upset England at the Volgograd Arena.

“I feel pretty good – I’m happy to go back to work and play. We are aware that we have a really tough group,” Khazri told Sunderland’s official website.

“We know that the favourites 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.”

While France-born Khazri is ready for action, his teammate Ali Maaloul is battling to regain full fitness.

The 28-year-old Al-Ahly left-back limped off Tunisia’s final warm-up match against Spain in Krasnodar last week with a hamstring problem.

A regular in the Tunisia side, Maaloul sat out training this week, leaving coach Nabil Maaloul under pressure over his player.

“We hope that Ali makes it in time against England. I have settled on the starting squad in my head and I am awaiting Ali’s return,” Nabil was quoted by the Daily Mirror.

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In the event that Maaloul fails to recover on time for Monday's tie, Oussama Haddadi of French League side Dijon is most certain to take his place.

Tunisia’s journey to the World Cup has been wrecked by injury worries with star player Youssef Msakni the biggest injury casualty, as he will miss the whole tournament with a knee problem.

The Carthage Eagles have been impressive lately and will begin their World Cup campaign high in confidence after losing just once in their last 10 games.

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