Skip to main content
Published 05 October 2023 6 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Southgate discusses selection of Saka, Bowen, Watkins and Colwill

Written by:

Frank Smith

England head coach Gareth Southgate discusses the Three Lions squad for October's fixtures with Australia and Italy

Gareth Southgate says staff with Arsenal and England will continue to assess the fitness of Bukayo Saka ahead of the Three Lions’ games with Australia and Italy.

The winger hobbled off in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Lens on Tuesday and has been described as a doubt for the Gunners’ huge Premier League clash with Manchester City on Sunday.

Southgate included the popular 22-year-old in his squad for October’s matches on Thursday afternoon whilst recognising Saka will have to be monitored in the coming days and week.

The England head coach said: “He is still being assessed. Obviously, they've got a big game this weekend and then there's another seven days before we play Australia and ten days before we play Italy as well, so everybody will monitor everything as we go forward.”

Ollie Watkins has been recalled to the England squad after his strong start to the season
Ollie Watkins has been recalled to the England squad after his strong start to the season

There were also recalls for forwards Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United and Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins.

Bowen has scored five goals in seven Premier League outings so far this season, whilst Watkins’ tally in all competitions is seven goals in 11 appearances.

Southgate was asked about the recall of Watkins during his press conference on Thursday afternoon and later spoke to BBC 5Live about the selection of Bowen.

He said: “There's a little bit [going on] with Callum Wilson as well because he's carrying an injury and I’m not certain he'd be available.

“Ollie has started the season well and he's hit a bit of scoring form in the last couple of weeks. You have to be careful with that because you can't just go on recency bias when you're looking at selection, but he is in good form.

“He's obviously coming in on a high and he's been with us before, so we know his character and we know his personality. He's a good guy around the group and he is in a team who are playing well. He's playing for a club that are really well coached and the team are in a in a good moment.”

Southgate continued: “Jarrod is five in his first seven games in terms of goals and it is six in eight if you count his last game of last season in the European final.

“He is in a good vein of form, we know his character, we like the way he's a real team player, and Ollie is the same.

“They both have a great work ethic and they both have a huge desire to improve.”

Levi Colwill and Bukayo Saka were among the players discussed at Thursday's press conference
Levi Colwill and Bukayo Saka were among the players discussed at Thursday's press conference

Chelsea defender Levi Colwill has also been included, having been a part of the last England squad but has yet to make his senior debut.

Southgate was asked whether the versatile defender was an option for the Three Lions at left-back, where he has been playing for the Blues this season, with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell still missing.

He replied: “Yes, very much so. We are conscious that most of his football has been as a centre-back and it is his preference and his strongest position but equally we're without a lot of experience at left back and he's playing there regularly.

“We’ve also got some other centre-backs that can fill in at full-back as well so it's an area where we need to find a little bit out about one or two players because the depth in that position, in particular in the (Premier) League, is not strong.

“But yes, we really like Levi, he had a fantastic season last year with Brighton, had an excellent EUROs with our Under-21s, and he's adapting well to life back at Chelsea.

“He's got a real maturity about his game and we're very hopeful for his future.”

See England squad in full