By News Team
Last Updated: 23rd June 2021
Former England goalkeeper David Seaman admits he doesn’t envy the selection headaches Gareth Southgate will have for the Three Lions’ European Championship last 16 match, but insists Harry Kane, Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka must start.
Both Grealish and Saka were thrust into the starting XI for the first time in the tournament for the 1-0 win against Czech Republic, and former Arsenal and England No.1 Seaman believes the pair justified their call-ups with excellent displays.
He said: “It was great to see Bukayo Saka in the line-up because every time I see him, he just goes out and plays. He always looks like he really enjoys it and doesn’t show any nerves or fear. To go out there and get man of the match was brilliant.
“In (Jack) Grealish, I feel he should start every game because he’s so creative. In every game he draws fouls, he frustrates opponents, and they end up kicking him. He knows exactly what he’s doing!”
He added: “Gareth now has a few selection headaches to sort out for who he is going to pick for the last 16, but it’s a good headache because he has a lot of good players to pick from.
“I can’t see Mason Mount coming back in (to the starting XI) because he hasn’t trained with the team, and he’ll only have had one day to train and that’s on the day of the game.
“For the front four, I would leave Harry Kane and Jack Grealish in there, as well as Raheem (Sterling), so then it’s between Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka, and for me I’d start Saka because of his confidence levels at the moment. Foden hasn’t done anywhere near what Saka did and hasn’t been as effective.”
On Kane’s ongoing goal drought, Seaman absconded the Spurs frontman of any blame and believes it’s a case of not getting him the service he needs to score goals.
He said: “It would’ve been nice for Harry to have a couple of chances, as he still seems to be struggling a bit. But with a player like Harry, you can’t take him out. You leave him in because you know he’s going to score when he gets a chance.
“If I’m honest, we’re not creating anywhere near enough chances for him. The goal that Raheem scored you’d expect Harry to be on the end of that cross.”
England recorded another clean sheet in their final group match, and Seaman believes that it’s gone under the radar how strong the Three Lions have been defensively.
He said: “I think it’s been overlooked (the clean sheets). If you look at the scores; 1-0, 0-0 and 1-0, it’s like old Arsenal scores! You win trophies doing that…
“But in all seriousness, it’s massively important to keep clean sheets and it’s not like they’ve had nothing to do. Jordan Pickford has made a few big saves in those games.
“For me, the defence has been really strong and everyone going into the tournament was saying that was our weakest part of the team, but it’s shown that we are strong there and the acid test will be the next game when we’ll come up against some really good teams who can test us.”
Pundits and fans alike discussed the catch 22 of England qualifying top of their group due to the likelihood of facing the second placed team from the ‘group of death’, but Seaman thinks any one of those teams will give Southgate’s side a tough outing.
He said: “Straight away you’d think we want to face Portugal, but France also had that weird result against Hungary where you think ‘hang on, where did that come from?’ Is there weakness there? Who knows?
“Germany look like they’re just starting to wake up. You look at their last performance against Portugal and they were epic. I’d want to avoid them unless you can guarantee beating them on penalties, which would be nice!
“Ideally, you’d look at Portugal but even that would be tough, and we have not got a good history against Portugal, especially in the knockouts.”
Seaman also admitted he’d be lying if he didn’t think about beating Germany on penalties, referring to Southgate’s infamous miss in the Euro ’96 semi-final against Germany. And Seaman said it would be fitting for his former international team-mate to execute the ghosts of ’96 and reclaim some sort of vengeance by beating the Germans in a shootout.
He added: “It would be great if we got Germany and it went to penalties, and for us to win it. It would be great karma for Gareth, and he would be so happy!
“Whoever we get will be tough, but we are capable of beating anyone on our day. But we also need to play much better than we have in the first three games, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve only played at 60% or 70%. We’ve got that extra gear to kick into, but we need to show it.”