- Saka will not link up with Three Lions
- Winger has been troubled with injury for weeks
- Southgate puts player welfare first
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Bukayo Saka will not be joining the England squad for the upcoming international break. This comes as a result of an ongoing injury concern that has kept the talented winger out of action.
No timescale given for Saka absence
Saka’s absence was absent for Arsenal’s 1-0 triumph over Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday, a match which was touted as a potential early title decider,prompting questions about his availability for England. The 22-year-old initially sustained the injury against Tottenham, and subsequent recurrences in clashes against Bournemouth in the league and RC Lens in the Champions League saw him ruled out of the City showdown and England’s friendly against Australia and their crucial Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy.
The exact duration of Saka’s sideline tenure remains uncertain. With a two-week respite before Arsenal faces Chelsea upon their return, there is a glimmer of hope that he might be back in contention for the highly anticipated London derby, provided his recovery progresses as expected.
England manager Gareth Southgate, in a statement last Thursday, emphasised that no
unnecessary risks would be taken with Saka’s fitness.
“We’ve got that responsibility of qualifying for the country, but I’ve been a player. I’ve never ever taken a risk on a player’s physical wellbeing, and nor would I,” said Southgate.
“They [Premier League clubs] have trust in us that we make decisions that are right for the long term whenever we can.”
While Saka’s absence will undoubtedly be felt both at club and national levels, prioritising his long-term well-being is a prudent decision. All eyes will be on how Arsenal and England adjust their tactics in the absence of his dynamic contributions. Bettors will have to decide how much Saka’s unavailability will affect England’s chances and, if he is to be out for a longer period of time, Arsenal’s.
At the time of writing Betfred make England favourites to beat Italy at Wembley, with current odds of 8/11, with Italy 4/1 and a draw 5/2.