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Report: 'Amazing' Arsenal player is really pushing to start England's first game at the World Cup
Photo by Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Report: 'Amazing' Arsenal player is really pushing to start England's first game at the World Cup

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is in real contention to start England’s first game of the World Cup, against Iran on Monday afternoon.

The Daily Mail report that Gareth Southgate has not yet decided which formation he is going to use for England’s opening game.

At Euro 2020, he went through the group stage using a back four as England topped the table unbeaten, before shifting to a back three to beat Germany in the last 16.

He could do similar in Qatar, which would open up the prospect of four attacking slots in a 4-2-3-1 system or similar.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Saka could start for England against Iran

That would double the chances of Saka starting the game, with the report saying that Phil Foden has impressed Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland.

Saka came off the bench in England’s most recent game, and helped them claw back a two-goal deficit to draw 3-3 with Germany.

He made a real impact on that game, which may also play into Southgate’s thinking when he comes to choose his XI for the Iran match.

England teammate Callum Wilson has already called Saka ‘amazing‘ after just a number of days training with the wideman.

Arsenal have two other players in the squad – Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White.

It would be a real surprise if Ramsdale got any minutes in Qatar, with Jordan Pickford the undisputed number one under Southgate.

White has more chance of playing, and is arguably England’s form defender, but he has been playing at right-back, where England have plenty of options, rather than centre-half, where a confident, match-fit alternative to Harry Maguire may be required.

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