Ashley Cole and Ian Wright praise Bukayo Saka’s performance in England’s win over Republic of Ireland

Arsenal star Bukayo Saka runs with the ball during England's win over the Republic of Ireland
Bukayo Saka produced a man-of-the-match performance in England’s win (Picture: Getty)

Former Arsenal stars Ashley Cole and Ian Wright were both full of praise for Bukayo Saka after the youngster’s impressive display in England’s 3-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland.

The visitors showed glimpses of promise in the opening exchanges at Wembley but England were in total control after Harry Maguire – wearing the captain’s armband in Harry Kane’s absence – broke the deadlock with a powerful header in the 18th minute.

Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho struck just past the half-hour mark to double the Three Lions’ lead and Dominic Calvert-Lewin put the hosts out of sight from the penalty spot in the 56th minute after Saka was fouled by Cyrus Christie.

Saka, making only his second appearance for the senior side, was handed the man of the match award for his outstanding performance on the left flank and Cole sang the teenager’s praises in his post-match analysis.

‘He likes to operate in those attacking areas,’ the former Arsenal, Chelsea and England left-back told ITV Sport.

‘Defensively, playing in a three or five he doesn’t get exposed as much but, yeah, I think he attacked well today and he was a constant threat one-vs-one out wide, defensively.

‘I don’t think it was great defensively (from the Republic of Ireland), to be honest, but Saka was very positive today.

‘I think him and Reece James played really, really well.’

Saka will be hoping to continue his run in the side ahead of England’s clash with Belgium (Picture: Getty)

Former Arsenal and England striker Wright was also impressed and felt England’s left-hand side looked far more dangerous than their right with Saka bombing forward.

‘I’m just pleased to see him attacking the space behind when he gets the opportunity because that’s what you want to see,’ he said.

‘Some of the times on the right-hand side I didn’t see that too much, there was an opportunity to do it but they didn’t.’

Saka will be hoping he’s done enough to nail down a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting X1 for England’s Nations League clash with Belgium at Leuven’s Den Dreef stadium on Sunday evening.

The Three Lions then return to Wembley to face Iceland next Wednesday.

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