Star boy Saka’s consistent brilliance makes him rock for England and Southgate | Jonathan Liew

Played out of position against Slovakia, made to survive on his wits, the winger proved Mr Dependable once again

Declan Rice is the guy who has to break the news. It’s a good choice. Instinctively Rice feels like the kind of guy who you want breaking bad news. Rice in a veterinarian’s coat, clipboard under his arm, explaining that they tried everything they could, but Jimmy Chew just didn’t make it. Rice’s voice on a crackly wireless, informing us with a heavy heart that we are now at war with Siam. And here – less gravely – with his arm around Bukayo Saka, letting him know that he is now England’s left-back.

“I don’t think putting me out of position is the solution,” Saka said last week when the zany suggestion was put to him that he might be the man to fill the cosmic event horizon on England’s left side. Sucks for you, Bukayo! The man in the M&S polo shirt reckons differently. And so as Rice explains the situation, you can glimpse a certain grotesque bemusement in Saka’s expression, the look of a man finally having the ending of the film Saltburn described to him.

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