​Sky pundit Paul Merson believes Dele Alli will be a liability for England, despite acknowledging he needs to be in the team. 

Alli missed England's World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Thursday due to a ban he received retrospectively for a middle finger gesture during England's previous qualifier against Slovakia.

The 21-year-old has been in decent form for Tottenham this season, scoring three goals in eight appearances. But despite his talent, ex-Arsenal star Paul Merson believes Alli has a poor temperament.


In his column for the Daily Star, he said of Alli: "He's a great player, but his temperament? Terrible, it's not right. The middle finger thing that got him banned is just petty. Gareth Southgate said he was just joking around with Kyle Walker and they do it all the time. But grown up men don't do that, surely?

"The other day playing for Tottenham he dived when they were 3-0 up against Huddersfield. You can't do that! Something is not right there. 

"Teams will target him to try and wind him up. They will pull his shirt, step on his toes. That's where you've got the stay calm and not rise to it. But can he do it? I'm not sure he can. He is going to be a liability."


But despite his criticism, Merson believes the midfielder has to start for England, even though he also feels England will be lucky to get beyond their World Cup group. He said "we were awful against Slovenia. Slow, boring and drab.

"Watching that, Alli has to play against Lithuania. You have to put your best players on the pitch as much as you can between now and the World Cup. But let's not kid ourselves, we'll be lucky to get out of our group, whoever we get. In fact I'd be shocked if we do."

England have already qualified for next summer's tournament in Russia. They will play Lithuania on Sunday in their final qualifier for the World Cup.