Sports

September 5, 2023

Nketiah ready to seize England chance

Nketiah ready to seize England chance

Nketiah

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah believes his first England call-up has come at the right time as he stakes his claim to be Harry Kane’s deputy at Euro 2024.

The 24-year-old is England’s all-time top goalscorer at under-21 level having netted 16 in 17 games.

But after bursting onto the scene as an 18-year-old, Nketiah’s future at Arsenal looked in doubt until an injury to Gabriel Jesus gave him the opportunity to impress for Mikel Arteta’s men last season.

Nketiah has also deputised for Jesus this season, scoring twice in four Premier League games, to earn his call-up to Gareth Southgate’s squad.

“I think I am a much better player now than I was two or three years ago. It is really nice and I am coming in at a good time,” said Nketiah on Tuesday.

“I feel confident and I feel ready to continue to improve. That is the thing, I’m still young and humble enough to know I am not the finished article.

“Coming away with these players and being able to show my quality and learn from them is really good for me and (to) continue to take those steps in my career.”

England travel to face Ukraine in Wroclaw, Poland on Saturday looking to extend their perfect record from four games of Euro 2024 qualifying.

The Three Lions then face Scotland in a friendly on Tuesday to mark the 150th anniversary of the first ever international between the countries.

That clash at Hampden Park could offer Southgate the chance to rest the likes of Kane as he looks to assess the depth of his squad ahead of the tournament in Germany next year.

And Nketiah is desperate for game time after opting to play for England over Ghana, where his parents are from.

“Obviously both sides were always an option,” he added on the possibility to representing the Black Stars.

“I think naturally coming through the academy at England, you have the aspiration to play here and once the call-up was there and the offer was on the table it was really hard to turn down.

“I felt now was a good time to make that step so obviously I’m really happy to be here and proud to be here. Hopefully I can go on and help the team this week and get some caps.”