Gareth Southgate believes Bukayo Saka will add depth to England’s left side after the Arsenal winger was handed his first senior England call-up.
The 19-year-old has rejected the chance to represent Nigeria and has made England’s squad ahead of their upcoming fixtures against Wales, Belgium and Denmark.
Saka has impressed on Arsenal’s left flank under both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta and has shown that he is capable of playing either as a left-back or in a more advanced role.
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Southgate says he has been impressed with Saka’s performances for Arsenal and says the winger will improve the options on England’s left wing.
Asked about Saka’s decision to turn down Nigeria in favour of England, Southgate replied: ‘I’ve not talked specifically to Bukayo about that. I think so many of our players are eligible for dual-nationality, sometimes for more than two countries.
‘We’ve been impressed with his progress through our system. I thought at times for Arsenal last year, at times really exciting. Still very young, still learning, of course, but improving all the time. High potential, real good quality.
‘Everybody that’s worked with him tells me he’s a very level-headed, intelligent boy.
‘So it’s an area of the pitch we’re keen to look at a different profile of player. He can play a number of different roles very comfortably.’
In a separate interview with England, Southgate said of Saka: ‘I talked a little bit about him last month and we felt it was a bit early [for a call-up] and it probably is a bit early for Bukayo.
‘But he is playing in an area of the pitch where we’ve not got great depth. We’re excited by what he’s done there.
‘We think this is a good opportunity in this camp to have a look at him and for him to gain an understanding of how we work at senior level.
‘We’re excited by the potential there, we think he can flourish as he gets older. Although he’s very young we’re happy to give youngsters a chance.’
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