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Bukayo Saka ‘more than happy’ to take a penalty for England at World Cup 2022 as Gareth Southgate prepares for France



World Cup

Bukayo Saka says he is “more than happy” to step up if England face a penalty shootout at the 2022 World Cup as they prepare to face France in the quarter-finals.

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Saka missed the decisive penalty in England’s defeat to Italy in last year’s Euro final and received racial abuse as a result along with teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who also failed to score.

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He has bounced back with Arsenal and England this season, starting the first two group games in Qatar, as well as England’s 3-0 win over Senegal, where he scored the third goal.

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“I have matured and progressed a lot as a player since then. [Euro 2020]”, Saka before England’s clash with France.

“I wouldn’t have accelerated the times I have at Arsenal if I didn’t have the confidence, so if the time comes and I am selected I would be more than happy to take one.

He added: “Personally, I’ve tried to move on from that moment, obviously I know I can never forget it, it’s there in the story.

“But at the same time coming here and scoring those three goals, of course, it encouraged me a lot, and the love from the fans that I continue to receive also encouraged me a lot and gives me a lot of confidence.”

England have scored 12 goals in Qatar, the most of any team, but are wary of the challenge they will face against defending champions France.

It will be Southgate’s biggest test at a World Cup as manager, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele expected to put England’s defense under serious pressure.

One question ahead of the game is whether Southgate will stick to the 4-3-3 formation used throughout the tournament in Qatar, or go back to three at the back with two full-backs.

The latter was used by Southgate in England’s 2-0 win over Germany in last year’s European Championship.

Saka believes England have players “who know what to do” and believes they don’t need to change “too much”.

“I’m not a coach, I’m a player,” he said. “We trust Gareth and our coaching staff to prepare the best game plan.

“I think we can continue to do what we’re doing. We are playing well, so I don’t see that we need to change too much.

“There is no question about the quality of our team, we are blessed with an incredible front line.”

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