England boss Gareth Southgate has explained his decision to include Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka in his playing squad.
The manager had to cut his initial 33-man squad down to 26 ahead of today’s deadline for the European Championships, with the likes of Mason Greenwood and Jesse Lingard missing the cut, while Arsenal’s Saka retained his place.
Some circles aren’t in agreement over the 19 year-old’s inclusion however, but Southgate has no regrets in his selection, and moved to praise the youngster’s character shown throughout the season.
“Firstly he’s performed exceptionally well for us and performed well in a team that’s had a difficult season,” Southgate stated at his press conference after announcing his squad(via Football.London). “Sometimes young players can go into teams that are playing well and flourish. He’s gone into a team that have had a tough season and have really played with character as well as skill.
“Again we saw when he had to come on in Belgium [last autumn] real personality in his performance. His adaptability, the fact he can play four or five different positions is a real plus for us.”
While Saka may not be in line to start the tournament in the first-team, I wouldn’t be shocked if he made a big impact off the bench before earning his place in the starting line-up.
The versatile Gunner has shown that he can appear settled in various situations, and various playing roles, and became almost undroppable for Arsenal, and I thoroughly expect him to earn a similar stature for his country in the coming years.
Am I alone in believing Saka could well earn his place in the starting XI as the tournament reaches the latter stages?