Gareth Southgate has admitted that England are sweating on the fitness of Bukayo Saka ahead of England’s Euro 2020 quarter-final clash with Ukraine.
The Three Lions have landed in Italy ahead of Saturday night’s game in Rome, in their first match of the tournament away from Wembley.
England go into the game as overwhelming favourites as they look to book their place in the last four of a major tournament for just the fourth time since 1966.
The Ukraine game comes just five days after the emotional victory over Germany, with Southgate admitting the quick turnaround has limited how much work they can do on the training ground.
Asked about his approach to the game, the England boss said: “I think firstly, making sure the players have got the right levels of information and not filling their heads with too much.
“They’ve got to recover from the last game, physically you can’t do too much on the training ground and you’ve got to get the right balance and we’re really looking forward to the game.”
Saka started in both the win over Czech Republic and the 2-0 victory over Germany, impressing in both from the left hand side of England’s attacking trio.
But with less than 24 hours until kick-off Southgate has confirmed that the Arsenal star will need to undergo a late fitness test to assess his availability.
“We’ve just got to check on Bukayo who had a slight knock today,” he explained. “Other than that, everybody is available.”
With the lack of preparation time, there have been some concerns over fatigue in the England camp, but Southgate claims the squad are all physically prepared for the demands of the Ukraine game.
“We had six days prep before the last game and although the game the other day was intense and emotional, it was only 90 minutes.
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“I think everybody is fine in terms of physical load, we’ve of course got a strong squad and a strong bench and the heat here will have a little bit of a factor on the game.
“The players are all physically in a good position.”
Four players go into the game on a yellow card, with Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Phil Foden all just one caution away from missing the semi final – the point at which cards are wiped.
But Southgate has no intention of that clouding his selection, insisting he isn’t looking beyond the task at hand.
“I don’t understand that rationale,” he said of resting players. “I understand strategically that you would like to do that, but I can’t think of a country in the world that would do that for a quarter-final.
“But especially a country that has only been to four semi-finals in its history. We’ve got to focus on tomorrow [Saturday], I think it would be a big error to not do that.”