Bukayo Saka was named Star of the Match for last night’s victory over the Czech Republic, and Gary Neville claims his performance could even have inspired the England team.
The Arsenal youngster was left out of both the opening group matches, with Phil Foden and Mason Mount selected ahead of him for the attacking roles, but Saka’s performance will definitely have given manager Gareth Southgate food for thought.
The Arsenal player played as he does at club level, confident, aggressive, unselfish and inspiring, and for me, the England team has lacked so much of this in the earlier matches.
Gary Neville insists that not only Saka, but Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling have put serious pressure on their rivals with the performance last night, and you can’t help but agree.
“Tonight we have seen Saka, Sterling and Grealish. These three have put the likes of Rashford and Foden under real pressure,” the former Three Lions’ right-back told ITV’s coverage(via the Daily Mirror).
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Gareth stuck with these three. I think Foden will come back in, but it’ll be tough to leave one of those three out after this.”
“He’s taking the ball on the back foot all of the time, he’s driving at people. That’s what we expected from Foden in the first two games.
“We didn’t quite get it, we know how exceptional he is. I think he could have inspired his team-mates tonight, Saka.”
I was expecting Saka to start the competition on the bench, but was sure that Southgate would have at least brought him off the bench during the opening two matches knowing he has that raw ability and enthusiasm, but I was wrong. What I wasn’t wrong about however is that Saka would take his chance when it came, and Southgate now has a major selection headache, albeit a pleasant one.
Will Southgate do the right thing and keep Saka in the team?