The 19-year-old winger was withdrawn from Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad after picking up a hamstring injury while on Arsenal duty.
Saka first felt the problem in the north London derby victory on 14th March and left the field at half time. However, the youngster recovered in time to feature as the capital club dramatically rescued a point against West Ham in the game prior to the international break.
Despite this, the teenager was released by Southgate so he could continue to receive treatment at Arsenal’s training centre, although, in a recent press conference, Arteta revealed he hasn’t been training with the first-team squad, and Watts has pleaded with the Gunners boss to take every precaution possible.
Speaking on Thursday, he said: “We’re two days away now from the Liverpool game, Saka still hasn’t been training with the group. That’s been a couple of weeks now. You think that even if he does start joining up with the team today, and potentially tomorrow, that it might come a little bit too early for him and he would be on the bench – if picked at all in the squad.
“Personally, for me again, I’ve said it right, you just don’t want to take a risk with Saka. He’s played so many minutes of football this season, it’s no surprise he’s started to pick up a muscle injury here or there. So, you don’t want to take any risks.
“You’ve got Nicolas Pepe, who’s in very, very good form at the moment. He’s making an impact almost every time he’s on the pitch. And so, do you really need to rush Saka back if he is struggling with an injury?
“So even if he does, for me, take part in training in the next couple of days, I still think it’s probably best to err on the side of caution with Saka, especially when you got Nicolas Pepe in that sort of form.”
TIF Thoughts on Saka…
Despite his tender age, Saka has been a vital cog in this Arsenal side this season, as his impressive 6.97/10 WhoScored rating shows.
The youngster, who is valued at £54 million (as per Transfermarkt), has played the most minutes out of every outfield player for the capital club throughout this campaign, and Watts’s plea for Arteta to err on the side of caution is completely understandable.
Arsenal are still in with a chance of finishing in the European qualification spots in the Premier League and face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals of the Europa League in the coming weeks, and having a fully-fit Saka available could provide a huge boost to their chances of achieving their goals for the remainder of the season.