Soccer

Gareth Southgate’s comments on Bukayo Saka hint at regular England role

Gareth Southgate hailed the "excellent" Bukayo Saka after the Arsenal youngster put in another impressive display for England on Wednesday night.

Saka started two of England's three fixtures over the November international break, performing well in each of the wins against Ireland and Iceland, as well as replacing Ben Chilwell early on in the defeat to Belgium.

His latest displays followed a solid debut in the friendly with Wales last month, and the 19-year-old now looks to have forced his way into becoming a regular in the Three Lions squad.

Speaking after the 4-0 win over Iceland, England boss Southgate said: "It was good to see Bukayo again, he has had three excellent performances this week, especially for someone so young."

There is plenty of competition for places in England's wing-back slots, but being naturally left-footed is a huge plus point for Saka.

Southgate has been forced to used Kieran Tripper and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the role in previous months – both of whom are right-footed.

Chelsea defender Chilwell remains first choice, but Saka now appears to have jumped up the pecking order to station himself at least as primary back-up.

It wasn't just Saka who pleased Southgate with his efforts, though.

"We are still working on balance and the profile of players in the system," he said.

“It was good to see Mason [Mount] in that central area again, he made excellent forward runs. Our attacking play was very good.

"Right from the back the play was built so well, we moved it crisply and took up good positions, and the movement of Phil [Foden], Jack [Grealish] and Harry [Kane] was excellent."

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Southgate laughed off suggestions he now faces a selection headache, stating it was a good problem to have so many players producing strong performances.

He continued: "The reality is that a lot of the squad we’ve had over the last three months are going to peak in three to five years’ time, that’s when they will have a lot of caps, a lot of experience internationally and more club experience.

"We think it’s worth investing the time in them and they are learning a lot from some very good senior professionals."

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