No burn-out fear as Bukayo Saka lives the dream

Bukayo Saka is unconcerned about the amount of football he is playing as he continues to live the dream of representing England.

The 19-year-old was something of a surprise hit during the recent international break, playing in all three games and impressing manager Gareth Southgate.

After only breaking into the Under-21s set-up in September, Saka has already collected four senior caps.

Southgate had originally said he saw the Arsenal man as more of an attacking option but he has shone playing in the now-familiar role of left wing-back for club and country.

He has started all but one of Arsenal’s opening eight Premier League games and racked up 232 minutes across England’s three November fixtures.

Talk of burn-out for players during a truncated season due to the coronavirus pandemic has been rife – but Saka is keen to push on.

“It’s a lot of minutes but as a kid this is what you dream of,” he replied when asked if he was worried he was playing too much.

“So I can’t now turn around and say I don’t want to play it because I am living my dream, playing for England.

“I played all three games – who’d have thought I would do that? So I’m not going to complain.

“I just have to trust the people in charge will manage me in the correct way and continue to help me thrive and progress as a player.”

Saka also admitted he has yet to be able to fully comprehend his rapid rise to the senior England set-up but was pleased by his recent performances.

“It’s all happened so fast I haven’t even had time to think about it,” he said.

Saka made his England debut in the friendly win over Wales earlier in the season.
Saka made his England debut in the friendly win over Wales earlier in the season. (Nick Potts/PA)

“Playing for England is such an honour, it’s the highest level you can play at. So I haven’t really thought about it too much.

“But I’m going to go home and speak with my family about it – I know they’re proud of me. I’m sure they will tell me what they think of it all.

“I’m very happy with the way my week’s gone. I’m happy with the boss because he has put a lot of trust in me.

“I’m still young but for him to put me on in these type of games is an honour and it gives me so much confidence.

One of our own ❤️

Congratulations to @BukayoSaka87 who has been shortlisted for the 2020 Golden Boy award 🏆

— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 15, 2020

“I’m also grateful to the players, they took me in, encouraged me a lot and gave me confidence.

“That helped me to go out there and express myself, and I felt in all the games I was given an opportunity, I played well and took my opportunity.

“I am happy with my performances in this international break.”

The next target for Saka is to pin down a place in Southgate’s squad for the rescheduled European Championships.

Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is another conteder for starting at left-back for England.
Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is another conteder for starting at left-back for England. (Neil Hall/PA)

While there are more options on the right-side of defence than Saka’s role on the left, he will still be competing with the likes of Ben Chilwell and club-mate Ainsley Maitland-Niles – while other players such as Luke Shaw and Aaron Cresswell will be hoping for a late surge into contention.

But Saka feels he knows what he needs to do to stay in the reckoning for next summer.

“I feel that every opportunity that comes up in every camp and every international break I have to make sure I’m fit and available to be picked,” he added.

“Then, when I am picked, I have to give my all and take every opportunity I am given. Also I have to remain at my club, play well, score goals, assist goals, be a threat, be good defensively and show the boss he can trust me.”

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