Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka outlines his plan to earn Gareth Southgate’s “trust”
Not long turned 19, Bukayo Saka has played a fair amount of first team football.
And amidst all the talk of the physical demands on players, Arsenal are wary of putting too heavy a workload on their prize teenager.
Saka has just featured in all three of England’s November matches, starting two and coming on as a first half substitute in the other.
But clocking up the miles is no problem for a young man riding the crest of a wave.
Saka explained: “It’s a lot of minutes but, as a kid, this is what you dream of.
“So I can’t now turn around and say I don’t want to play too much because I am living my dream, playing for England.
“I played all three games – who’d have thought I would do that?
“So I’m not going to complain. I just have to trust that the people in charge will manage me in the correct way and continue to help me thrive and progress as a player.”
He is certainly thriving and progressing, having only made his England under-21 debut in September.
With Gareth Southgate seemingly intent on sticking with his 3-4-3 system, Saka is now strongly fancied to make the final 23 for the Euros next summer.
And with Southgate at the helm, Saka knows his youth and relative inexperience will not be a problem.
He said: “There is a lot of good young players coming through for England in this generation and it’s very exciting the boss gives out so many debuts.
“It’s really encouraging for all the players coming up through the youth teams because they see there’s an opportunity and a pathway and you can make it into the team. You just have to keep working and one day you’ll get your opportunity and you have to take it.
“I feel the young players who were given the opportunity against Iceland took it.
“Phil Foden played really well and I’m so happy for him. I just hope all the other young players coming through can follow him and in the footsteps of the other players in the team right now.”
Saka impressed over the three games with England not conceding when he was on the pitch.
But he knows his defensive game is just one of the things he needs to work on as he tries to cement his place in Southgate’s squad.
He said: “I feel that every opportunity that comes up in every camp and every international break, I have to make sure I’m fit and available to be picked.
“And then when I am picked, I have to give my all and take every opportunity I am given.
“I have to remain at my club, play well, score goals, assist goals, be a threat, be good defensively and show the boss he can trust me.”
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And having seen fellow youngsters Declan Rice and Foden get off the mark, Saka – who missed a couple of decent chances against Iceland – believes his first goal will not be long coming.
He said: “Not only against Iceland but I feel I could have got on the scoresheet in the previous games as well.
“But what’s good is I’m getting into the positions in the box where I’m having opportunities to score and I feel like the goals will come.
“I just have to keep doing the right things and work on my finishing in training.”