‘You’d have to speak with Pep’ – Southgate explains why Man City star can’t play in preferred position for England

News Desk
England manager Gareth Southgate with Man City attacker Phil Foden
England manager Gareth Southgate with Man City attacker Phil Foden

Gareth Southgate has raised doubts over Phil Foden’s current suitability to play in a central area for England, which he rarely does for Manchester City, either

The 23-year-old is one of the most precocious talents around but, as the player admits himself, has yet to take his form with Manchester City onto the international stage.

Foden has scored three times in 26 appearances for England and said in March that “hopefully I can adapt and become a midfielder”, stating “that’s my aim”.

Asked if he could deploy the City star in a midfield three rather than wide in big international games, Southgate said: “Well, he doesn’t for his club, so presumably there’s a reason for that.

“It depends on the level of the game, really. Obviously in the middle of the park everybody wants to talk about them with the ball, but there’s a lot of detail without the ball.

“In games like at the weekend (against Ukraine), you’re playing opponents that are so clever with their passing and movement that you’ve really got to be spot on with pressing angles, your responsibilities.

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“If you don’t, then you don’t have the flow of the game, you don’t get the flow of the game.

“You’d have to speak with Pep (Guardiola), the best coach in the world, who plays him from wide.

“He’s always got the freedom to drift if we play him wide and that’s important.”

Foden said during the World Cup in Qatar that he sees himself “playing behind the striker in the future or as one of the 8s or 10s at City”.

Southgate, who has spoken to Guardiola about the England international, pointed to the fact that Foden “doesn’t play there” frequently at club level, while saying he is “very happy” with the player.

“He’s played in a Euros for us, came on in the semi-final of the Euros and had a big impact,” the England boss said ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Scotland at Hampden Park.

“He’s played in a World Cup for us. He’s only 23 years old. He’s got amazing experiences.

“He’s still progressing and learning, but he is a super player for us to have involved.”

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