Family comes first for England's Delph

Fabian Delph is delighting in being a part of England's World Cup squad but knows a flight home is only a phone call away.

England midfielder Fabian Delph   -  Getty Images

England midfielder Fabian Delph has no qualms over putting his World Cup dreams on ice if his wife goes into labour with the couple's third child.

Briefly a key man for the Three Lions during his Aston Villa days under Roy Hodgson, injuries and a lack of first-team opportunities at Manchester City left Delph on the outside looking in at international level.

A resurgence under Pep Guardiola and a superb season in the previously unfamiliar position of left-back for the Premier League champions earned him a place in Gareth Southgate's squad.

Nevertheless, the 28-year-old has the full backing of his international manager when it comes to putting family first, with his wife Natalie's due date approaching.

Having bluntly explained his family were not attending Russia 2018 because, "my wife is very big at the minute and is about to drop", Delph noted Southgate has empathy for his predicament.

"Gareth understands how important family is to me and he's the same as well," he said.

"We've spoken about it a lot. I think he was away at an England camp and he had to fly back to see the birth of his child. He got there 10 minutes before, he said, so hopefully I can do the same.

"I don't think it would affect me mentally. Obviously I'd have to get back to England and then get back again, so that's not ideal but it's part of life.

"I'm about to have my third child and I'm not going to miss it if I can help it. But I want to get back as fast as I can, so we'll have to see."

Delph - expected to start on the bench against Tunisia - has plotted out all the logistics with the Football Association should he get the call, joking he will be treated to "a private plane with lots of Champagne on it".

Meanwhile, England are favourites to claim an opening victory over Tunisia in Group G, even if the country's recent tournament experience has often undermined the form guide.

Delph is taking nothing for granted, however, and compared the top-ranked African nation's playing style to the one Guardiola's City honed to such fine effect.

"We won't be able to roll them over," he added.

"I likened them to Manchester City in terms of how they like to try and play football and move the ball around fast. They're an in-form team.

"They are very confident, very comfortable on the ball, so we will have to be on our toes and implement our game plan spot on to get the win."

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