Manchester City’s star academy graduate and first-team mainstay Phil Foden is unlikely to play in central midfield for England, manager Gareth Southgate has indicated.
Foden has started the new season for Manchester City in fine fashion, operating in various roles but largely adapting to life without Kevin De Bruyne for an extended period of time by drifting into the centre of the park for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Foden most notably impressed during the 1-0 win over Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League, when his assist for Julian Alvarez proved to be the match-winning moment in a stern test for the reigning Champions.
Across six appearances in all competitions so far this campaign, Foden has registered three assists and is looking to make more of the mark on the new season than he did last time around after the 2022/23 campaign was largely hindered by fitness problems and a lack of consistent game time.
While currently on an international break, Phil Foden has seemingly not been permitted to continue that fine form generated at club level, with manager Gareth Southgate suggesting that the City star is unable to operate anywhere else other than wide-wing.
Speaking to the media during a press conference ahead of England’s international friendly against Scotland this week, Southgate indicated that due to Foden not starting in midfield at Manchester City, he cannot play the role for the Three Lions.
Southgate explained, “He (Phil Foden) doesn’t play there for his club, so presumably there is a reason for that. It depends on the level of the game, really.
“In the middle of the park, everyone wants to talk about when you are with the ball but there is a lot of detail without the ball and games where you have to be spot on with pressing angles. If you don’t, you don’t get the flow of the game.”
The England boss stated that it would be best to speak to Manchester City’s manager as to why Foden is currently unable to operate regularly in the middle of the park, as he continued, “You’d have to speak to Pep (Guardiola), who is the best coach in the world, who plays him wide. He’s always got the freedom to drift if we play him wide and that’s important.
“We are very happy with Phil. He’s played in the Euros, came on in the semi-final of the Euros and had a big impact, he’s played in World Cups for us. He’s only 23 years old, he’s got amazing experience. He is still progressing and learning but he is a super player.”
For now, Foden appears to be continuing to compete for a starting berth in the England starting line-up with their attacking wide players, as Gareth Southgate pointed towards stars from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United.
“But we’ve got a lot of really good young players so it has not been straight-forward. We have expectations of every player and he’s been with us from a young age. But he’s battling against Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford and all of the other players we have in that area.”
Phil Foden and his Manchester City teammates return to action on Saturday afternoon, as they travel to the London Stadium to take on fellow league high-flyers West Ham United in Premier League duties.
City remain the only team in the English top-flight to have registered a 100 per cent winning record from the opening four match weeks of the campaign, as they look to win an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League crown.
The clash against West Ham is accompanied by the start of their UEFA Champions League defence this month, which begins with a home clash against Red Star Belgrade in the group stage, as well as a Carabao Cup third round tie against Newcastle United.
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