Gareth Southgate hasn’t set a date for Raheem Sterling’s return after the winger was ruled out of England’s last 16 game against Senegal over a ‘family matter’.
England announced on social media on Sunday that the Chelsea striker will be absent from the knockout clash, having started two of the Three Lions’ three World Cup appearances so far.
“I spent quite a bit of time with Raheem this morning but had to pass that on to other people to help out,” Southgate told ITV before kick-off.
Asked if Sterling would return should England progress to the final stages in Qatar, he added: “He’s going to take care of that, and then we’ll have to do it from there.”
Carra: Saka change shows strength in depth
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:
“What Southgate has with his four wide forwards – Rashford and Foden playing the last game with Saka and Sterling playing the previous two games – I don’t think there’s a huge difference with what he does.
“The fact that he can cut and change shows how deep he has strength in those wide areas. I just felt Foden and Rashford were the right ones to go with, just because they were so confident in the last game, but again you go to the first game and you think how good Sterling and Saka were in that game against Iran.
“I’m neither shocked nor surprised at what he’s doing in the wide areas because we have so much quality there. It’s the only area of the squad where there’s real competition for places.”
Defensive mindset the reason?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett:
“There is no doubt that Saka has been in brilliant form for Arsenal this season. Saka got the nod against Iran and was player of the match. He brought energy to that attack, but also with a defensive midfielder , and I think that’s probably what got him the green light today.
“Southgate know they can count on Saka to come back if there are any breaks, he has the pace and the energy to make sure that happens because it will be an athletic Senegal side.
“Nevertheless, it’s a huge call.”
England’s potential route to the World Cup final
Round of 16 – Sunday 4 December
England versus Senegal – Kick off 7 p.m.
Quarter-finals – Saturday 10 December
England versus France Where Poland – Kick off 7 p.m.
Semi-finals – Wednesday 14 December
England versus Morocco/Spain/Portugal/Swiss – Kick off 7 p.m.
Round of 16 matches
Saturday, December 3
Netherlands 3-1 USA
Argentina 2-1 Australia
Sunday, December 4
France (Group D winners) vs. Poland (Second in Group C) – Kick-off 3 p.m.
England (Group B winners) vs. Senegal (Second in Group A) – Kick-off 7 p.m.
Monday, December 5
Japan (Group E Cinners) vs. Croatia (Second in Group F) – Kick-off 3 p.m.
Brazil (Group G winners) vs. South Korea (Second in Group H) – Kick-off 7pm
tuesday 6 december
Morocco (Group F winners) vs. Spain (Second in Group E) – Kick-off 3pm
Portugal (Group H winners) vs. Swiss (Second in Group G) – Kick-off 7 p.m.