England: Shaw update gives Southgate ‘clear dilemma’ amid ‘uncomfortable’ Saka warning

Lewis Oldham
England Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka in training.

According to reports, Manchester United star Luke Shaw has been declared fit to play for England ahead of their Euro 2024 quarter-final against Switzerland.

Shaw was included in Gareth Southgate’s final 26-man England squad for Euro 2024 despite not playing since February as a result of a severe hamstring injury.

Shaw to return?

Southgate decided to take a risk on Shaw as Ben Chilwell’s injury difficulties meant the Chelsea star was not primed to replace the Man Utd star.

The Man Utd defender was not fit enough to feature in the group stages or England‘s last-16 tie against Slovakia and he was sorely missed.

Newcastle United star Kieran Trippier has been used as a makeshift left-back in his absence. His reliance on his right foot (and Phil Foden’s insistence on drifting inside) means England have been ineffective on the left flank throughout Euro 2024.

England have struggled all over the pitch in their four matches and were within minutes of being knocked out of the tournament by Slovakia in the previous round.

His side’s dire performance against Slovakia (and the ban picked up Marc Guehi) has tempted Southgate to consider a formation change for the quarter-final against Switzerland.

Arsenal star Bukayo Saka finished the game against Slovakia at left-back and he is expected to start at left wing-back on Saturday as Southgate switches to three at the back.

However, a report from The Daily Mail claims Shaw ‘is set to be passed fit’ to make his first appearance at Euro 2024.

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Shaw is said to be ‘able to play a part on Saturday, although Southgate faces a clear dilemma as to whether he can start the game given the risks involved’. The report explains.

‘The original plan has been to reintroduce Shaw off the bench, but it remains to be seen whether Southgate is prepared to gamble on using the defender from the outset given his importance to the team amid a backdrop of four largely disappointing performances here in Germany so far.

‘Mail Sport revealed on Wednesday that Southgate is considering switching to a three-at-the-back system having started the opening four games of Euro 2024 with a four-man defence.

‘If Southgate decides to switch formations, Shaw would provide the England head coach with options at left-wing back and centre back – a position he has played for United under Erik ten Hag.

‘It is understood Bukayo Saka has also been looked at as makeshift wing-back for the clash against the Swiss in the event of a system switch.’

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Former England international Teddy Sheringham has warned Southgate against using Saka in a defensive role as he didn’t “look comfortable” there against Slovakia.

“I don’t think Bukayo Saka looked comfortable at left-back against Slovakia compared to how he was faring on the wing,” Sheringham said.

“He’s not exactly going to say to Gareth Southgate that he doesn’t want to play there or left wing-back if he gets asked to, but it’s not his ideal position.

“This England team have been guilty of putting square pegs in round holes this tournament, like what they did with Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield. You can’t keep trying these things and expect to get away with it against the top teams.

“Saka has not been firing on all cylinders yet throughout the tournament, but he’s still a very good player and it’s close between him and Cole Palmer over who should play on the right-hand side of the attack.”