Gareth Southgate has insisted that Phil Foden will be play a ‘big part’ for England at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Foden is arguably the brightest young talent in the Premier League, having won the PFA Young Player of the Year in consecutive seasons, and has been in fine form for Manchester City during the current campaign – scoring seven goals in 14 league appearances.
Despite this, at international level the 22-year-old has found opportunities slightly harder to come by. Foden was brought on as a sub in England’s opening game win over Iran, before not even making it off the bench in their subsequent 0-0 draw with USMNT.
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This lack of game time has saw Southgate come under some criticism for not using his more creative players, instead opting for the more athletic Mason Mount to start the Three Lions’ first two World Cup games. Speaking to ITV ahead of the final group game against Wales, Southgate has come out to defend his decision making stating:
“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 versus Iran. We decided to stick with that team and we felt the changes required something a little different for the USA.
“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.”