Gary Neville believes ‘massive talent’ on England bench is Southgate’s ‘best player by a mile’

Jason Soutar
Gary Neville on Phil Foden

Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville has said Phil Foden is the “best talent” for England “by a mile”.

The Manchester City youngster was named on the bench for England’s opening two matches at the World Cup.

He came off the bench on matchday one against Iran with his side cruising to a comfortable victory.

Many fans believe Foden should be starting for England, but the big question is: who does he start over?

Chelsea’s Mason Mount usually starts as Gareth Southgate’s main playmaker in the No. 10 role, but he is better known for his work rate and tactical flexibility rather than his playmaking abilities.

Foden certainly has the ability to play in that position, though he doesn’t tend to do so for Pep Guardiola’s City.

The 22-year-old has often played through the middle but as a false-nine in Guardiola’s attack. He otherwise plays on either flank, predominantly the right.

Right winger Bukayo Saka has been on fire for Premier League leaders Arsenal this season and scored a brace against Iran on matchday one, so is hard to drop as things stand.

Raheem Sterling – albeit out of form at club level for Chelsea – also started in the frontline with Harry Kane and, like Saka, was on the scoresheet.

With Sterling being Southgate’s best option on the left and Saka flying for Arsenal, Foden has found himself on the bench to start the tournament in Qatar.

Despite the glistening talent around him at international level, Foden has been told he is England’s “best player” by Gary Neville.

Foden came into the tournament in top form for City having scored eight and assisted three in 20 matches in 2022-23.

At half-time of the Three Lions’ game against the United States with the score goalless, Neville said: “I think Foden, and I know he’s not playing, but Phil Foden not to be playing in the England starting XI is a real shame.

“He’s a massive talent. I think he’s our best player, our best talent by a mile in this country and he should be playing in that team.”

Asked who he would take off for Foden, Neville replied: “I think he may bring Saka off. I wouldn’t. I would change him for Mount and put him in midfield.

“That’s one thing we know about the first game, England did have good options off the bench, (Marcus) Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold could come on, Foden, (Jack) Grealish.”

Neville’s ITV colleague Ian Wright added: “You could probably see Phil Foden’s skill and ability cause problems.”

During commentary, another former right-back, Lee Dixon, said Foden needs to come on as England needs someone to play “in between the lines”.

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