With just a week remaining until England’s first match of the World Cup, pundits are starting to put forward their preferred lineups for the tournament, and Jamie Carragher is backing Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka.
In general, most pundits seem to agree that at least two of Saka, Raheem Sterling, and Phil Foden should be starting for Gareth Southgate’s side, but there’s some disagreement within that.
Carragher opted for Saka on the right and Foden on the left, arguing that the right-wing position should be reserved for the Arsenal man.
“I love Raheem Sterling and he was England’s best player in the Euros, he was out of this world,” Carragher began. “This season his form has not been great and lately in an England shirt. Saka has been playing that well in that position.
“I prefer Raheem on the left so it wasn’t a case of Saka vs Sterling. It was always going to be Saka on that side and then it’s Sterling vs Foden.
“I just think the actual ability of Foden, the way he’s playing since the European Championships, I’d go with him.”
Carragher wasn’t the only one to argue for Saka’s inclusion, with Jamie Redknapp saying that “Saka is bang in form, so I feel he has to play as well”.
Rio Ferdinand has also argued for Saka over the last few weeks, writing: “In this form (for Arsenal), you can’t look past Saka on that right-wing spot. In an England shirt as well, he does it as well.
“I’ve watched him a couple of times this year live as well, when he gets [the ball], his first instinct and intentions are to go past you. He wants to attack the full-back.
“I love that about him. He’s got no fear, he’s playing with a bit more maturity every time I see him.
“If he’s in that mode going into the World Cup, I don’t see anybody starting in front of him on the right-hand side.”
Saka has five goals and six assists for Arsenal this season, helping the Gunners to the top of the Premier League table as well as topping their Europa League group.
The winger also impressed in his last appearance for England, coming off the bench to spark a comeback from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 (and eventually draw 3-3).
There are no guarantees that will earn him a starting spot in Southgate’s side, but he could hardly have given himself a better shot at it.