Gareth Southgate to face questions over whether England can feel safe in Russia as tensions escalate

Gareth Southgate will face questions on Thursday as to whether he believes it is safe for England to go to the World Cup as relations with Russia continue to deteriorate.

The Football Association continues to insist there are no plans whatsoever to withdraw England from the finals and is pressing ahead with preparations.

However, Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Wednesday that no government ministers or members of the Royal Family – including FA president Prince William – will attend the World Cup after a Russian-made nerve agent was used on an ex-spy.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, are in a critical condition after the incident in Salisbury on March 4. May said that the relationship between the two countries „cannot be the same“.

Southgate names his squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Holland and Italy as preparations intensify for the World Cup. The FA is aware that the manager will also have to discuss the ongoing crisis and whether England should boycott the tournament. He will also be asked if any players or clubs have expressed safety concerns.

The FA is in regular dialogue with the Foreign Office and Home Office and those discussions will intensify closer to the World Cup. There have been no crisis talks.

The Prime Minister, when asked whether senior FA officials should also not go to the World Cup, said: „I’m sure they will want to be considering their position. Attendance at sporting events is a matter for the sporting authorities – it’s a matter for them.“

On Wednesday, the Foreign Office updated its advice for those visiting Russia. It said UK nationals in the country should be „aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment“ due to „heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia“.

It said the British Embassy in Moscow was „not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time“ but recommended UK nationals „remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publically on political developments“.

May, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, said the government would „look at security and protection of any UK football fans travelling to the World Cup“.

She also announced that the UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats and revoke an invitation to the Russian foreign minister to visit the country.

Russia denies being involved in the attempted murder of Skripal.

In a statement the FA said: „The FA will continue to work closely with the UK Government and relevant authorities regarding our participation in this summer’s Fifa World Cup and the Women’s World Cup qualifier in June. Our priority for all England matches is to ensure the safety and security of the fans, players and staff. As is standard practice, we will take all travel guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.“

Fifa is also monitoring events but did not comment. If England did withdraw there might well be ramifications over their involvement in future Fifa tournaments and bidding for them – such as the 2030 World Cup – given they could fall foul to the organisation’s statutes on political interference.