Gareth Southgate says Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have been a breath of fresh air at Arsenal, ahead of the international break later this month.
If English Arsenal fans are hoping to see some representatives of their club in the national side later this month, as well as in the summer, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are probably their best bets.
Saka was in the last England squad, whilst Gareth Southgate singled Smith Rowe out for praise in a recent appearance on talkSPORT radio.
“Emile Smith Rowe [is] getting his opportunity at Arsenal,” Southgate highlighted.
“Those two boys at Arsenal, Saka and Smith Rowe, have been a huge breath of fresh air in their team and there are more across the country if they get their opportunity.”
The England boss did go on to suggest there were plenty of factors that would go into his squad selection this summer, however. He hinted that experience was an important factor if you’re going to win tournaments.
“It is a case of who is playing the best, who do we think has the pedigree, who has performed at a high level before, coupled with who is in form and who fits into the way we want to play,” Southgate continued.
“You need experienced players who have got to those latter stages of tournaments, who are used to winning and have maybe won trophies with their clubs. We’ve got to get the balance right.”
It would honestly be a little bizarre if Saka didn’t make the cut this month. The winger was already in the team in November, and he has five goals and four assists in 12 starts since Christmas, becoming a key player in Mikel Arteta’s side.
Saka is impressing against big Premier League opponents, winning Man of the Match against Chelsea and earning praise from Pep Guardiola after the Manchester City clash. He’s also scoring and assisting in the most crucial of moments in the Europa League.
As for Smith Rowe, perhaps a first-team chance is a bit of a long shot right now, partly because he’s injured, but mainly because of his lack of experience at the higher age groups with England.
The midfielder is still yet to play for the England u21s, let alone the senior side. Southgate will want a settled squad for the next couple of breaks before the Euros, so perhaps an u21 call-up is a more realistic target this month.