Arsenal star Bukayo Saka set for new England role as Gareth Southgate heeds Ian Wright advice

Bukayo Saka of England and Gareth Southgate, Manager of England on the side line during the UEFA EURO 2024 round of 16 match between England and Slovakia at Arena AufSchalke on June 30, 2024 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is set to start at left-wing-back for England in their 2024 European Championships quarter-final against Switzerland tomorrow afternoon as manager Gareth Southgate looks to make dramatic changes to his England side.

The Three Lions have made it to the final eight of yet another major tournament under Southgate, who has come under criticism since the start of the tournament for England's style of play going forward which has seen them accumulate the lowest amount of chances created of any team left in the tournament.

A staggering 21 of their 45 shots have come from outside the penalty area, leaving much to be desired, and England were only kept in the tournament by a last-minute bicycle kick equaliser from Jude Bellingham in their eventual 2-1 win over Slovakia last weekend.

It's meant that the likes of Saka and Phil Foden on the wings have had limited impact on matches, leading many to call for their replacements - players like Cole Palmer and Anthony Gordon - to be given the minutes instead. However, ex-Gunners striker Ian Wright suggested England could benefit from deploying Bukayo Saka as a left-back instead of Kieran Trippier who has stunted play down that side of the pitch which caught a lot of traction.

In the past, the star has remarked about how it's not his favourite place to play but does understand how to fit into the role having first broken through the Arsenal first team ranks there. The 22-year-old previously remarked: "It’s not my natural position, but he’s [Arteta] given me all the advice I need.

"I learned a lot about how wingers in the Premier League play against defenders and how to position myself because in his system it’s different. I get to play much higher because the winger comes inside and I get to go.

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"There’s a lot of space for me and it’s good for me. I’m playing sort of as a winger when we have the ball but without the ball, I have to come back and work on my clearances, my heading and stuff I haven’t worked on my whole life. I feel like I’m doing ok right now.

"In the future, if I do get to go back onto the wing I feel like I know how full-backs play and playing as a full-back I know what wingers do, what I like them to do and what I don’t like them to do. It’s a good learning experience for me."

Having started each of the three group stage matches against Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia on the right wing though, Saka had failed to complete a full 90 minutes of action at the tournament before the win over Slovakia and could now see a new role for him in the form of full-back, or as a more attacking left-wing-back if Southgate opts for a formation change.

And do that he just might, as reports are suggesting that Saka will start as a left-wing-back in the clash against Switzerland over Kieran Trippier, who will instead be shuffled over to right-wing-back. Saka already had to play in that position against Slovakia during extra-time when Ezri Konsa replaced Jude Bellingham and Conor Gallagher came on for Harry Kane as England sat back.

It means the three centre-backs will be Manchester City pair Kyle Walker and John Stones who will line up alongside Ezri Konsa who makes his full Euros debut with Marc Guehi suspended for the tie.

Manchester United star Luke Shaw is also said to be fit enough to start according to Southgate, but it appears as though he'll be opting for Saka instead with the Euro 2020 final goalscorer possibly coming off the bench should England need to defend a lead.