Bukayo Saka suffers 'slight knock' during training on Friday and is England's only injury concern ahead of Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine; England travelled to Rome as favourites to progress to the last four
Saturday 3 July 2021 08:04, UK
Bukayo Saka is an injury doubt for England's Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine after suffering a knock in training on Friday.
Saka started England's last two victories against the Czech Republic and Germany but faces a late fitness test ahead of Saturday's game in Rome.
"We've just got to check on Bukayo, who had a slight knock today (Friday)," said England boss Gareth Southgate.
"Other than that everybody is available."
Phil Foden could be restored to the right side of England's attack after losing his place to Saka for the final group game against the Czech Republic, with the Arsenal winger then retained against Germany.
Foden and Jack Grealish have yet to feature together during the tournament but Southgate denied that was due to a clash of styles.
"Absolutely they can work together," he said. "They've played for us in the past together. We've just got such a strong array of attacking talent.
"I've said all along it's impossible to keep everyone happy, to pick a team everybody will agree with. But we've got to pick the right players for the right moments, to sense what will cause the opposition the most problems, physically where all the players are at, when is the best time for them to have an impact.
"They've all been unbelievably respectful of their team-mates and the fact we have got this strength in depth.
"Raheem (Sterling) has been on fire. His goals have made it more difficult for some others to get in on that left side."
Southgate said it would be an "insult" to Ukraine to plan beyond Saturday's quarter-final by resting the four England players who are a booking away from missing a potential last-four date.
Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Phil Foden risk being suspended for a possible semi-final against Denmark or the Czech Republic at Wembley if they pick up a caution at Stadio Olimpico.
Bookings are wiped after the quarter-final stage and Roma manager Jose Mourinho said the quartet should be rested against Ukraine on Saturday to avoid any suspension for the semi-final.
But Southgate, who left Foden out of the squad for the final group stage game - a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic - to avoid a potential ban, said he had no intention of following suit against Ukraine.
"No. I don't really understand that rationale," he replied when asked if the four bookings would affect his team selection.
"I understand that strategically you might like to do that but I can't think of a country in the world that would do that for a quarter-final. And especially not a country that has only been to three semi-finals in its history.
"I think we've got to focus on tomorrow. I think it would be a big error for us to be thinking about anything else and I think it would be an insult to Ukraine as well."
Maguire does not agree with the UEFA regulations but insisted it would not prevent him from playing his normal game against Andriy Shevchenko's surprise quarter-finalists.
"First and foremost, two yellow cards in five games seems a bit steep for the punishment of missing a semi-final but that is the rules and that's what we have to deal with," he said.
"But for me, I'll just be going to the game as normal. Listen, you don't play in a quarter-final for your country often, we haven't reached that many times in the past.
"So the opportunity is there to go and perform and do everything I can to reach a semi-final and then we'll think about that when it come.
"At the moment I am just fully-focused on the quarter-final and that's what I'll be thinking about, I'll just be playing a normal game."
Oleksandr Zinchenko says Ukraine need to play the game of their lives if they are to secure a historic win against England.
Versatile Manchester City player Zinchenko is the biggest name in the Ukrainian side and knows his team face an uphill battle against some familiar faces at the Stadio Olimpico.
"I will say that numbers speak for themselves," Zinchenko said of England. "The fact that England hasn't conceded any goals yet, they play very well in defence.
"But I think that there are no perfect teams. Every team has weaknesses."
England vice-captain Jordan Henderson says anyone underestimating quarter-final opponents Ukraine is "delusional".
England are overriding favourites having beaten rivals Germany 2-0 at Wembley in Tuesday's last-16 encounter, but Henderson is not taking anything for granted heading into the quarter-final.
"It was a fantastic performance but we haven't achieved anything yet and we've still got a long way to go," the 31-year-old said.
"Full focus on Ukraine. It'll be a really difficult test and anybody that says that it won't be are delusional, really.
"I know people say 'well, we beat Germany' but you can't underestimate the importance of this game and how hard good of a team Ukraine are and how hard it will be against them.
"We're fully prepared and fully aware of that. We just need to go out there and give absolutely everything again and hopefully that's enough to get us through."