Gareth Southgate admits he would have no qualms in asking Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka to both take a penalty if England’s last 16 World Cup showdown with Senegal on Sunday night is settled by spot kicks. The superstar forwards both missed from 12 yards in the penalty shootout when the Three Lions were defeated by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Manchester United ace Rashford and Arsenal star Saka regularly take penalties for their club sides these days. And they were both asked to step up in the Euro 2020 final. Rashford was introduced to the action at the end of extra-time especially to take a kick, as was World Cup absentee Jadon Sancho, while Saka had already been on the pitch for 50 minutes by the time the shootout commenced.
Rashford was the first of the trio to miss, before Sancho and Saka also failed to find the back of the net. But when asked if he would have any hesitation in turning to Rashford and Saka once again in Qatar, England boss Southgate replied: “None at all.
“Marcus’ stats would be among the best in the world, really, on penalty-taking. And Bukayo is now taking them more regularly with his club. They’re both in a good space with that. In terms of the changes, Marcus came on as a sub in Moscow [against Colombia at the last World Cup] and took a penalty four or five minutes earlier than we put him on at Wembley.
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Southgate has also singled out goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for praise after the Everton ace saved two penalties during the shootout defeat to Italy. And the ex-defender thinks the shot-stopper can make the difference in Qatar. “Jordan’s been exceptional in the shootouts we’ve had,” Southgate added. “That also gives you confidence.
“You know he’s highly likely to save at least one, if not more. When your goalkeeper can do that, it’s a huge boost to the rest of the team. I don’t know if he’s statistically better or worse than others but he’s definitely been excellent in the shootouts that we’ve had.”