Saturday, June 22, 2024

England dealt Bukayo Saka fitness worry ahead of Euro 2024 opener with Serbia

Must read

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has been struggling for fitness ahead of England’s Euro 2024 campaign (Picture: Getty)

Bukayo Saka is a doubt for the start of England’s Euro 2024 campaign and Gareth Southgate has been forced to consider alternative options in attack ahead of Sunday’s Group C clash with Serbia.

The 22-year-old has been a near ever-present in Southgate’s squads since receiving his first senior call-up in 2020 and has twice been named the England Men’s Player of the Year.

But a groin injury – sustained during shooting practice – saw Saka miss Arsenal’s final match of the Premier League season against Everton and the forward is still yet to return to peak fitness.

Saka played no part in England’s Euro 2024 warm-up match with Bosnia and Herzegovina a week ago, as goals from Cole Palmer, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Kane sealed the Three Lions a 3-0 win at St James’ Park.

The young winger did, though, make the squad for last Friday’s defeat at the hands of Iceland and came on as a second-half substitute for Anthony Gordon at Wembley, playing 25 minutes.

According to The Daily Mirror, Saka remains a ‘fitness worry’, with Southgate and England’s medical team having to manage his training programme ahead of this summer’s tournament in Germany.

It’s claimed Saka has not given up hope of being able to start this weekend, though Southgate could be tempted to rest the Arsenal academy graduate versus Serbia to avoid the risk of exacerbating the issue.

Saka and England fly out to Germany today (Picture: Getty)

Southgate confirmed in the aftermath of England’s loss to Iceland that Saka had skipped several training sessions and the attacker’s fitness will be closely monitored over the coming days.

Saka has played in every age group for England going back to Under-16 level and has scored 11 goals in 33 appearances for the senior side under Southgate’s tutelage.

He played a key role in the Three Lions’ previous European Championships campaign as Southgate’s men suffered penalty-shootout heartbreak at the hands of Italy at Wembley.

Southgate’s side kick off against Serbia in Group C this weekend (Picture: Getty)

Speaking to the media following Friday’s friendly, Southgate played down concerns over possible injuries to defenders John Stones and Marc Guehi.

Manchester City’s John Stones came off at half-time against Iceland before Marc Guehi took a heavy blow to the head.

‘With John we decided at half-time there was no point in taking any chances He’s a very important player for us. Marc is fine,’ the England head coach told reporters.

On England’s below-par display, Southgate added: ‘It does focus the mind, it does focus on how we have to drive the team, the sort of reaction we need.

‘That any sort of complacency that talent is going to get us this trophy and that we only have to sort of stroll in… I mean, football is not like that.

‘You’ve got to be spot on in every aspect of the game to win any game at this level and we were a long way short of that tonight.

‘Iceland deserved their win. They had a couple of other chances on the break that we didn’t deal with, so I think it really focuses our minds to drive the team over the next week.’

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on
FacebookTwitter and Instagram
.


MORE : Ex-Arsenal star Theo Walcott names two perfect summer signings for Mikel Arteta


MORE : Pep Guardiola names his three ‘favourites’ to win Euro 2024


MORE : Gareth Southgate can manage top club should he step down as England boss, says Aaron Ramsdale

Latest article