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Bukayo Saka ‘more than happy’ to take penalty for England at 2022 World Cup as Gareth Southgate prepares for France

Bukayo Saka says he is “more than happy” to step up if England face a penalty shootout at the 2022 World Cup, as they prepare to take on France in the quarter-finals.

Saka missed the decisive penalty in England’s defeat to Italy in last year’s European Championship final and received racial abuse as a consequence along with team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who also failed to score.

He has bounced back with Arsenal and England this season and started the opening two group games in Qatar, plus England’s 3-0 win over Senegal where he scored the third goal.

Premier League

Saka says Arsenal ‘always the one’ despite interest from Spurs and Chelsea as a youngster

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“I’ve matured and progressed a lot as a player since that moment [Euro 2020],” Saka ahead of England’s clash with France.

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“I wouldn’t have stepped up the times I have for Arsenal if I wasn’t confident, so if the moment comes and I’m selected, I would be more than happy to take one.

He added: “Personally I’ve tried to move on from that moment – obviously I know I can never really forget about that, it’s there in history.

“But at the same time coming out here and scoring those three goals, of course, lifted me a lot – and the love from the fans that I keep receiving has lifted me a lot as well and gives me a lot of confidence.”

England have scored 12 goals in Qatar, the most of any team, but are wary of the challenge they will face against defending champions France.

It will be Southgate’s biggest test at a World Cup as manager with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele expected to put England’s defence under serious pressure.

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One question going into the match is whether Southgate will stick with the 4-3-3 formation used throughout the tournament in Qatar, or revert to three at the back with two wingbacks.

The latter was used by Southgate in England’s 2-0 win over Germany at last year’s European Championship.

Saka thinks England have the players “who know what to do” and believes they don’t need to alter “too much”.

“I’m not a manager, I’m a player,” he said. “We trust Gareth and our coaching staff to prepare the best game plan.

“I think we can continue to do what we’re doing. We are playing well so I don’t see us needing to change too much.

“There’s no doubt about the quality of our team, we are blessed with an amazing front line.”

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Premier League

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Euro 2020

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14/07/2021 AT 12:13

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