Soccer

Gareth Southgate waits on Bukayo Saka news ahead of England double-header

Bukayo Saka is an injury concern for Arsenal and England (Nigel French/PA)
Bukayo Saka is an injury concern for Arsenal and England (Nigel French/PA) Bukayo Saka is an injury concern for Arsenal and England (Nigel French/PA)

Boss Gareth Southgate will be sweating on Bukayo Saka’s fitness ahead of naming his England squad to face Australia and Italy on Thursday.

The Arsenal forward came off in the first half of the Gunners’ 2-1 Champions League defeat at Lens on Tuesday night.

Saka suffered a hamstring injury and boss Mikel Arteta admitted it was a concern ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Manchester City on Sunday.

Doubts over Saka’s fitness could open the door for Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon after his impressive start to the season.

Sheffield United v Newcastle United – Premier League – Bramall Lane
Sheffield United v Newcastle United – Premier League – Bramall Lane Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon has been in good form (Martin Rickett/PA)

Winger Gordon helped England Under-21s win Euro 2023 in the summer and has two goals and two assists in the league.

Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins is pushing for a recall with seven goals in all competitions this season, including two hat-tricks after his treble in the 6-1 thumping of Brighton on Saturday.

Watkins, who has two goals for England in seven caps, was left out of last month’s squad to face Ukraine and Scotland but is a strong contender for a return, especially with Callum Wilson managing a hamstring issue.

With Saka a doubt and Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze sidelined for six weeks there are gaps in England’s forward line for the friendly against Australia on October 13 and Euro 2024 qualifier with Italy on October 17.

Eze suffered a hamstring injury in Palace’s 1-0 win at Manchester United on Saturday. Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling could be one to profit having been left out of the last three squads.

Ben Chilwell also has a hamstring injury, leaving Southgate short of options at left-back with Luke Shaw already out with a muscle problem.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Old Trafford
Manchester United v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Old Trafford Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze was forced off against Manchester United. (Richard Sellers/PA)

Brentford’s uncapped Rico Henry is also sidelined for the season with a serious knee injury so Southgate could opt for Chelsea’s Levi Colwill to fill in.

The squad is also likely to come too soon for fellow Blues defender Reece James, who has been nursing his own hamstring injury.

Harry Maguire has managed just three minutes of Premier League action since last month’s wins over Ukraine and Scotland – although he played the full game when Manchester United beat Palace 3-0 in the Carabao Cup last week.

There are no suggestions Southgate is about to drop the centre-back, although Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa should be under consideration.

John Stones is back in training with Manchester City, having been out since the Community Shield in August, but is lacking minutes.

Kalvin Phillips continues to struggle for game time at City but is expected to be included.