Gareth Southgate set to start in-form Arsenal star Bukayo Saka for England’s World Cup opener against Iran

    Bukayo Saka is set to start for England against Iran on Monday, talkSPORT understands.

    In what will be considered a confident attacking selection by Gareth Southgate, Saka is expected to be offered a wide attacking role on the right.

    Saka’s fine start to the season is set to be rewarded with a starting berth against Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium

    Getty

    Saka’s fine start to the season is set to be rewarded with a starting berth against Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium

    Southgate’s decisions will come under the microscope this tournament

    AFP

    Southgate’s decisions will come under the microscope this tournament

    Saka’s cameo display as a substitute in the 3-3 draw with Germany in the Nations League may have convinced Southgate that he needs to start.

    He has also been in confident and consistent form for Premier League leaders Arsenal, scoring four goals and providing six assists in the top flight so far this season.

    Saka’s starting berth points to England playing a back four, with three attacking, creative players behind captain Harry Kane.

    The clash against Iran, which is live on talkSPORT, is very likely to come too soon for both James Maddison and Kyle Walker, who are carrying knee and groin complaints respectively.

    On Maddison’s fitness, Southgate told talkSPORT on Sunday: “He hasn’t been able to train, so that is a slight concern. The longer that continues, the longer it will take him to be available for the matches.

    “But we’re not expecting him to miss training for much longer and we’ll just have to assess it from there.”

    Maddison picked up the injury during Leicester’s 2-0 win at West Ham on November 12

    AFP

    Maddison picked up the injury during Leicester’s 2-0 win at West Ham on November 12

    However, the Three Lions boss did have better news regarding Walker.

    Southgate added: “He’s close, he’s training with the group, so he’s slightly ahead of where we thought he might be.

    “He’s an incredible athlete anyway, so he’s got some natural advantages that one or two other players haven’t got.

    “But also, the rehabilitation link between ourselves and Manchester City’s medical team has been excellent throughout.

    “We are really pleased with his progress, we didn’t expect him to be training with the team until after first game and he’s a couple of games ahead of that.”

    Listen to full commentary of England vs Iran live on talkSPORT, kick-off 1pm.

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