Southgate picks Saka ahead of Foden for England’s World Cup opener against Iran

November 21st, 2022 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

There rae reports that Bukayo Saka is set to pip Phil Foden to a starting role in England’s World Cup opener against Iran on Monday as Gareth Southgate prepares to go gung-ho here in Doha.

England boss Southgate, according to the Daily Mail, has been deliberating over whether to play Saka or Foden in Monday’s clash at the Khalifa Stadium, but it is understood the Arsenal star is hopeful of getting the nod.

The news will come as a surprise given Foden’s form for Manchester City this season. But Saka is in line to be rewarded for his brilliant form at the Emirates Stadium with a statement start.

Southgate is set to utilise a back four against Iran in what is expected to be an attacking line-up. In addition to Saka’s anticipated inclusion, the England boss is also ready to unleash boy wonder Jude Bellingham on the World Cup stage.

There has been a clamour for Bellingham, 19, to start the tournament for England following an impressive season for Borussia Dortmund.

And Southgate is ready to hand his teenage sensation a World Cup debut from the start. The England boss is set to keep faith with Harry Maguire in central defence despite his problems at club level. John Stones is expected to play next to Maguire.

Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw are hopeful of being selected at full-back, while Declan Rice and Mason Mount could get the nod alongside Bellingham in midfield.

Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane should join Saka in England’s attack while Jordan Pickford will play in goal.

Southgate stressed on Sunday that he plans to rotate his team through the group stages, which will offer Foden a chance to play regularly during the tournament, potentially start against the USA and Wales.

Foden may also be introduced as a substitute against Iran.

ENGLAND (4-2-1-3): Pickford; Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham; Mount; Sterling, Kane, Saka.

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