England manager Gareth Southgate and his Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta face nervous waits over Bukayo Saka ‘s fitness.
Arsenal staff reportedly remain apprehensive behind the scenes, despite early signs of Bukayo Saka’s ankle injury looking positive. England manager Gareth Southgate is holding his breath over Saka’s condition, with less than a month before his squad flies out to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
Bukayo Saka notched his ninth goal involvement in 12 Premier League games by assisting Gabriel Martinelli at the start of Arsenal’s 5-0 rout against Nottingham Forest on Sunday. But in the 15th minute, Forest left-back Renan Lodi seemed to nip his ankle with a challenge before he fell to the ground awkwardly on his right knee in a grimace.
After Bukayo Saka tried to continue playing, he couldn’t, and Mikel Arteta replaced him with Reiss Nelson 12 minutes later. And in the aftermath, there has been significant concern over whether he will be fit to feature in Southgate’s squad for next month’s World Cup.
According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal handed England staff encouraging news about Saka’s condition on Monday but still harbour some worry after precautionary tests. There is added caution after Reece James’ ankle injury showed similarly positive signs at the start of his recovery, only to become more serious than initially feared.
James, who was expected to be Southgate’s first-choice right-wing-back, looks set to miss the World Cup, and there is widespread hope Saka doesn’t suffer the same fate amid a stellar campaign. However, the report adds that the FA are hopeful he will be available unless upcoming scans show surprise damage that hasn’t already been spotted.
The news will be an overwhelming relief for Southgate, who has already lost James and faces a big decision on Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips after the Manchester City duo’s lengthy lay-offs. Arteta will be just as hopeful Saka is good to go as soon as possible, with four more games on Arsenal’s schedule before the World Cup break.