Bukayo Saka insists he is not the answer to England’s left-back issues

Bukayo Saka insists he is not the solution to England’s left-back conundrum.

Gareth Southgate’s side has looked unbalanced throughout a Euro 2024 campaign which saw England top Group C despite three average performances.

Kieran Trippier has shifted over from right-back to start against Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia, but missed training on Thursday amid reports he is carrying a knock.

England’s Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw arrive ahead of an England friendly at St. James’ Park, Newcastle
Kieran Trippier, left, has started at left-back in Luke Shaw’s absence during Euro 2024 (Owen Humphreys/PA)

With Luke Shaw, the only recognised left-back in Southgate’s ranks, still working back to full fitness having been sidelined with a hamstring injury since February, the England manager may need someone else to step in.

Kyle Walker finished the goalless draw with Slovenia there and fellow defenders Joe Gomez and Ezri Konsa have had spells at left-back for their clubs – while Saka started his England career in a similar position.

But the 22-year-old, who has since gone on to become on of the top players in Europe on the right wing, does not see himself as the answer.

“I don’t think putting me out of position is the solution,” he said after a number of pundits had called for Southgate to make the change.

“At the end of the day, I think we can talk about this but it’s in Gareth’s hands so we will just have to trust whoever Gareth selects on the day.”

Southgate has come in for particularly strong criticism following the dismal displays that saw England set up a last-16 clash with Slovakia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

He said after the Slovenia stalemate that he needed to make sure being in the England squad was still a “fun” experience and Saka backed the 53-year-old.

Asked if it was still enjoyable, Saka told BBC Radio 5Live: “Yes, 100 per cent. I think he (Southgate) has created an amazing environment here.

Gareth Southgate applauds England fans after the goalless draw with Slovenia
Gareth Southgate applauds England fans after the goalless draw with Slovenia (Adam Davy/PA)

“If you asked me and asked a lot of the players they would definitely say ‘I look forward to coming and every time I’m selected I’m buzzing and can’t wait to meet us with the boys’.

“That is important because obviously even in the tournament 11 players play but it’s important that the whole squad is happy just for the morale of the group, to keep everyone involved and encouraging them so if you can have everyone happy, it makes it better.

“I would say football is just joy and happiness and when I get on the pitch everything, any problems, they are all just gone and I’m on the pitch having fun. I just love football.”