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Gareth Southgate insists Phil Foden has “big part” to play at World Cup

Gareth Southgate insists Phil Foden has “big part” to play at World Cup

England manager Gareth Southgate has responded to Phil Foden‘s lack of starts at the World Cup by claiming that the Manchester City attacker still has “a big part” to play in Qatar.

Despite coming into the World Cup on the back of scoring eight goals and providing three assists in 19 Premier League and Champions League appearances for Man City this term, Foden has been consigned to the bench against the USA and Iran.

The 22-year-old was brought on for the final 19 minutes of his side’s 6-2 success over Iran, but he was then an unused substitute in Friday’s goalless stalemate with the United States.

Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount have been chosen to start in support of Harry Kane in both of the Three Lions’ World Cup games so far, in spite of calls for the latter to be dropped for Foden.

However, Southgate told reporters after the draw with the US that a lack of recent practice in the number 10 role was his reason for not selecting the 22-year-old, saying: “We thought it was the right thing to keep the team from the start.

England maanger Gareth Southgate pictured on November 25, 2022© Reuters

“The wide players we went with Marcus [Rashford] and Jack [Grealish] instead of Phil [Foden]. We thought Jack would keep the ball well and get the ball up the pitch and we thought Marcus’ speed would help us get up the pitch.”

Southgate is facing louder calls to start Foden in Tuesday’s Group B finale with Wales, where a win would guarantee England’s progress to the last 16 as group winners.

Speaking to ITV Sport ahead of the contest, Southgate insisted that he was counting on Foden to deliver for the rest of the Three Lions’ run in Qatar, saying: “We love Phil, he is a super player.

“He was into the first game, we decided not to put him into the second. But he is going to play an important part in this tournament for us, there is no question about that.

“We haven’t got any issue with Phil. In September he started both games for us and we put him into the game v Iran. We decided to stick with that team and we felt the changes required something a little different for the USA.

Phil Foden warms up for Manchester City on November 2, 2022© Reuters

“But we are intending to be here as long as we can. And he is a super player and we think the world of him. And he is going to play a big part.

“He can play off either wing. He can play as a false nine. He can play behind a striker, he doesn’t do that as often for his club. He works hard for the team and of course he has fabulous technical ability.”

Foden has two goals and six assists to boast from 19 games in an England shirt since making his debut under Southgate in 2020, playing 68 minutes in a Nations League draw with Iceland.

However, the youngster was then sent home from that training camp after breaking COVID-19 rules in the team hotel alongside Mason Greenwood, who remains suspended by Manchester United while awaiting trial on charges of attempted rape, assault and controlling and coercive behaviour in November 2023.

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