Ian Wright has labelled Dele Alli as "naive and daft" after the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was caught on camera giving a middle finger salute during England's win over Slovakia on Monday (4 September).
The gesture, which came immediately after referee Clement Turpin had waved away Alli's appeals for a free-kick, was captured by TV cameras but the England international insisted it was a joke aimed at his teammate Kyle Walker.
However, that has not stopped FIFA from gathering evidence as it considers whether to launch an investigation into the incident, which could see the 21-year-old banned if found guilty.
"If England are going to ruffle any feathers in Russia, we need a man with the X Factor — and in Dele Alli we've got just that," he wrote in his column in The Sun.
"When he was pictured flicking the finger at Wembley on Monday, maybe it wasn't a nasty, malicious gesture. But it most definitely was naive and daft.
"I love Dele, I think he has the potential to be one of the best players anywhere. And I know he will have been horrified and gutted at the reaction after Monday night's game. He won't need telling he has done wrong."
On Tuesday (5 September), the Football Association said it would support Alli should he be contacted by FIFA, adding it believed it could prove the gesture was in fact aimed at Walker and not at the French referee.
According to the Guardian, the FA has come in possession of a closer camera shot, which has not been made public, which would confirm Alli's version of events and could be made available to football's governing body if required.
The Tottenham midfielder, who took to Twitter after the game and "apologised for any inconvenience caused", told England manager Gareth Southgate the gesture was not aimed at the referee and Walker confirmed it was a joke between them.
"Kyle and Dele were mucking about, and Dele's made a gesture towards Kyle," explained Southgate. "The pair of them have a strange way of communicating, but that's what they've said when it's been raised."