Southgate urged to avoid making England man ‘main target for opposition’ with position change

Jason Soutar
England manager Gareth Southgate gives instructions to Bukayo Saka
Gareth Southgate gives instructions to Bukayo Saka

David Seaman has urged England manager Gareth Southgate not to play Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka in left-back against Switzerland on Saturday.

Kieran Trippier has started left-back in each of the Three Lions’ four matches at Euro 2024.

The Newcastle United defender has failed to impress while playing out of position, sparking a big debate over who Southgate should start in left-back moving forward.

Saka filled in on the left during the win over Slovakia in the last 16 but insisted before the match that playing him there “is not the solution” for England.

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“I don’t think putting me out of position is the solution,” Saka said following comments from Arsenal legend Ian Wright.

“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.”

There have been reports that Southgate is planning to change to a back three against Switzerland for the European Championship quarter-final on Saturday.

Saka has played as a left-wing-back before and will likely be in Southgate’s thoughts for that position, but former England and Arsenal goalkeeper Seaman has echoed the player’s words, insisting that he can not play in defence, with opposition managers tipped to “target” him if he does.

“I don’t like seeing Bukayo Saka playing at left-back,” he said. “If I was the opposition, he would be my main target because he’s not a defender. If he starts at left-back, that gives teams a chance to really put him under pressure, and any decent coach will do that.

“Maybe he could play on the left side of midfield, but not at left-back because we need a defender there.

“The other question is whether you risk Luke Shaw in a quarter-final, because he hasn’t played in such a long time.

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“I don’t see why Trippier has to change, unless it’s through injury. The back four has not really been the problem, and it’s not like the opposition have been getting down our left side. It was happening more against Kyle Walker on the other side.

“Marc Guehi is now suspended for the quarter-final and is also dealing with a shoulder injury. I think he has been really impressive, especially with how he reacted after receiving the booking that ruled him out.

“Ezri Konsa came on as a substitute against Slovakia, which shows who Gareth trusts in that position. I would imagine that will probably be the only difference with the team when we play Switzerland.

“Hopefully Konsa will be as effective as Guehi has been, and at least he’s now had some game time, so it won’t be brand new to him. It’s not a worry to me at all.”

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