England midfielder Bukayo Saka backed the experience in the squad to be a big factor when England face France in the World Cup quarterfinal on Saturday.
Although only 21 years old, Saka formed part of the side that got to the final of last summer’s European Championship, as did most of his teammates and he believes that although the European adventure ended in disappointment, it would help on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of tournament experience now. If you look at the results from the last few tournaments we’ve been in, we’ve got to a semifinal, a final and (now) a quarterfinal.
“So when the big games come, we have a lot of players who know what they need to do,” he said.
Saka missed his shot in the fateful penalty shoot-out in last year’s final against Italy but said that if needed, he would step up again.
“Personally, I’ve tried to move on from that moment — obviously I know I can never really forget about that, it’s there in history. But at the same time coming out here and scoring those three goals, of course, lifted me a lot — and the love from the fans that I keep receiving has lifted me a lot as well and gives me a lot of confidence,” he said.
“I’ve obviously matured and progressed a lot as a person and as a player since that moment and I wouldn’t have stepped up to take a penalty for Arsenal the times I’ve stepped up if I wasn”t confident.”
“If the moment comes and I’m selected to take one, I will be more than happy to,” he promised.
The Arsenal midfielder also praised 19-year-old Jude Bellingham, who produced another outstanding display in midfield as England defeated Senegal 3-0 in the Round of 16 on Sunday, reports Xinhua.
“He’s a special player. I just hope he can continue to keep progressing because, for sure, he has a massive, massive future,” commented Saka.
Striker Callum Wilson sat out Monday’s training session. The Newcastle United striker, who didn’t take part in Sunday’s game, was the only absentee from the session for non-starters.
The players will have a day off on Tuesday before preparing for Saturday’s quarterfinal against France.