Arsenal wing-back Bukayo Saka is grateful to England captain Harry Kane for helping him settle in the national team and hopes to repay the faith shown in him by manager Gareth Southgate.
Saka, who made his England senior debut against Wales last month, has been called up to Southgate’s squad for the second time ahead of matches against Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise since breaking into Arsenal’s first team in November 2018, and he revealed it was Tottenham striker and England captain Kane who helped him settle when he joined up with his international team-mates.
“That helps me not just off the pitch but also on the pitch too, because I feel like I can be myself, express myself and play with the confidence that I play with back at my club.”
England face Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Wembley on Thursday, before travelling to Belgium and hosting Iceland in the Nations League – both games live on Sky Sports.
By his own admission, Saka started nervously against Wales on his debut last month but is determined to push on with the national team and is already targeting next summer’s delayed European Championships.
“It’s been amazing to have the faith of the manager and for him to recall me to this camp,” Saka said. “When I got the text, I was so happy again and I just want to do my best here.
“In the games and opportunities he gives me, I want to give my all on the pitch and I hope I can repay the faith he has shown in me.
“Games against Belgium are the type of games you want to play in as a player – the big games, the games that mean the most.
“It’s not just that game, though, every time I get an opportunity to show how good I am, hopefully I can do my best and hopefully get picked for the Euros.”
As well as Saka, England boss Southgate has called up Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish to the senior set-up once more.
Grealish was instrumental in his side’s 3-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday – a match Saka scored an own goal in – and the youngster is delighted to have the Villa captain as a team-mate instead of an opponent this week.
“He’s a top player. When I came here the first time he was the player who impressed me the most in training,” Saka said.
“Before we played against Villa at the weekend we analysed him and picked him out as one of their main threats and he showed it in the game.
“He was amazing from start to finish, so it’s going to be good to play with him and not against him this week.”