Will Saka Avoid the Axe? By Dan
Gareth Southgate today has to whittle his 33-man squad down to 26 for the European Championships.
Bukayo Saka has to avoid being one of the unlucky 7 or England will not have an Arsenal representative at the Euros for the first time since 1980.
It’s believed the Three Lions boss already told players individually who’s part of his squad and who’s been training just for the week, just in case there were any injuries in the two European Finals.
In a strange way by UEFA increasing the number of players each association can submit, it actually hurts Saka’s chances of being selected.
The smaller the numbers you can register, the more each position becomes valuable.
That’s where Saka’s versatility would have helped him, a coach can cover 3-4 roles with the one pick.
With 26 options though there is no need to do that.
Southgate himself prefers 24 being the maximum to register as too many people not feeling involved affects morale.
Not that he will be copying Spain who have volunteered not to take the whole quota free to them.
Originally planning for only 24 players to work with, Southgate might view the extra spots as free hits.
Harry Maguire might not be fit enough to start the tournament, while Henderson hasn’t started a game in months but is involved due to his leadership qualities on and off the pitch.
Taking talent not 100 per cent fit contradicts what Southgate has said in the past, but that was when he was preparing for a 24-man party.
He might feel he can use the additional places to take risks.
Does the uncertainty over Maguire means a defender stays and fills in for the start of the group stages?
There’s talk that without the Man United captain, the Three Lions would switch to a back 5. Does that increase the centreback options?
In a three he likes Kyle Walker; Stones will start so it’s one of Mings or Coady.
With a Mings or Coady on the bench and Maguire to come back, Uncapped Godfrey and White have only been invited to the recent camp for experience.
Obviously, there’s no need for 4 keepers. I think he will pick Ramsdale as his number 3 because he works within the set up for the under 21’s.
That leaves us with 4 players to leave at home (even though we are playing at Wembley).
The issue is Saka is yet to be as important to his country as he is his club.
There are gooners who think our players are a lot better than they are based on simply because they play for the Gunners. It’s not a slight on the youngster to say he’s not as good (at the moment) as a Rashford, Sancho, Sterling, Foden or Grealish.
Equally with our options at full back I don’t see where he fits in.
Plus at 19 it’s always easier to let down a player on the pretense that they will have another chance in the future.
Let me stress that inmost other years Saka makes the squad, it’s just England right now are blessed with so many options in his position.
As a teenager, it’s a credit to him to even be in the conversation.
Yet also it may maybe a reality check to a section of our fans in terms of how far away we are from our previous levels.
One of our best players this season and he might not make the England squad.
My 7 Not to Go!
S Johnstone GK
Godfrey – CB
White – CB
Saka – M
Ward Prowse – M
Watkins – Striker
Which 7 would you leave out?
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