In light of England’s ongoing left-back dilemma, Rio Ferdinand has offered Gareth Southgate a solution by speculating that Bukayo Saka might take over in the event that Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier are sidelined by injury.

Newcastle center back Trippier began the Three Lions’ Euro 2024 campaign against Serbia on Sunday, taking Shaw’s spot. Shaw had not played a minute since mid-February, but he was included in Southgate’s 26-man Germany team. Shaw’s forced absence from training on Wednesday was a big setback for Southgate, who had warned that he would make a final decision on the Manchester United defender before starting him in Sunday’s 1-0 victory.

Worse even, in the closing minutes of the match against Serbia, Trippier appeared to take a knock but was able to continue playing because of England’s “magic potion”—pickle juice—which aids in the rapid recovery of athletes suffering from cramps. If the 33-year-old is sidelined for England’s second Euros match against Denmark on Thursday, Southgate won’t have a recognized left-back on his roster. The only other player in the group who played left-back for his club last season is utility man Joe Gomez.

Saka, 22, made his debut at Arsenal as a stand-in left-back, filling in for Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac when the player was injured. These days, he is considered as one of the greatest wingers in the Premier League. Having run out of options, the North London club turned to their 18-year-old academy graduate to play defense. The youngster performed and gained his manager’s trust before becoming one of Arsenal’s key strikers. Ferdinand, an England international for 14 years (1997–2011), was pleased with the winger’s performance in the weekend’s match against Serbia.

Did you notice how many times he stood up the full-back and completely decimated him—like skinning him—he continued? “I thought Saka was excellent.” The wing-play he displayed in the first 45 minutes was my favorite part. He jumbled it up. It wasn’t always that he entered. He ventured outdoors a few times.

The issue arose in the second half when they applied pressure on us; the defender was unsure of his next move. That didn’t go over well with us.


By xplora

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