EPL

Saka out of England v San Marino as Rashford misses training

By Sports Desk March 24, 2021

England will be without Bukayo Saka for their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier against San Marino due to a hamstring injury.

Saka has stayed with Arsenal to continue his rehabilitation and a tweet from England's official account said it was hoped the 19-year-old would join up with the squad "later this week".

England host minnows San Marino at Wembley in Gareth Southgate's 50th game at the helm on Thursday.

Marcus Rashford also sat out training on Wednesday as he continues to recover from the foot injury he sustained during Manchester United's Europa League triumph at Milan.

Rashford was absent as United were knocked out of the FA Cup by Leicester City last weekend but he joined up with England despite club boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying he "wasn't close" to playing at the King Power Stadium.

The 23-year-old, who was laid low by a stress fracture to his back last term, recently dismissed fears over an excessive workload, but he has played more minutes than any forward in Europe's top five leagues this season across all competitions.

Rashford's 3,328 minutes on the field place him ahead of Lionel Messi (3,292), Mohamed Salah (3,257), Harry Kane (3,172) and the England captain's Tottenham colleague Son Heung-min (3,138) among the five most used attacking players.

Saka made his international breakthrough earlier this season and has won all four of his caps playing as a left wing-back.

However, he has truly excelled since switching to a right-wing role at Arsenal.

Since being deployed there in a 3-1 Boxing Day win over Chelsea, Saka has four goals and two assists in 13 Premier League appearances, creating 17 chances during that time.

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    Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland? How about both? The questions are the same as Real Madrid enter each transfer window. As in 2020, though, such queries are wholly unrealistic.

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    Madrid's play without the ball has also changed in the time Ancelotti has been away, and getting them to perform in this regard as they did during his first stint will be more difficult still. Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro – Madrid's long-standing midfield trio – were on board when Ancelotti left the club six years ago. Modric will be 36 in September. Class and experience are on their side, but the energy of youth is not.

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    To this point, with a former coach returning to guide the same players, Madrid's approach appears closer to devolution than evolution or revolution. The defence at least will ensure this team has a new sheen, albeit not one that necessarily improves Ancelotti's chances of success at home or abroad.

    Alaba is a fine player with vast experience, six years younger than Ramos but with 10 Bundesliga titles and two Champions League triumphs to his name. It is a like-for-like change that makes sense, even with Ramos' emotional ties to the Bernabeu. However, asking Alaba to also replace Varane, the outgoing captain's stalwart defensive partner, feels like a tough ask.

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