Southgate excited by 'fabulous' Foden

AFP , Sunday 10 Oct 2021

Gareth Southgate said Phil Foden's emergence as an England star is "fabulously exciting" after the Manchester City playmaker stole the spotlight in the 5-0 rout of Andorra.


Foden was England's stand-out performer in the one-sided World Cup qualifier at the Estadi Nacional on Saturday.

Ben Chilwell, Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Grealish scored the goals as Southgate's side moved a step closer to qualifying for next year's World Cup in Qatar.

Foden's breathtaking range of passing was key to England breaking down the massed Andorra defence.

Spraying the ball around from deep in midfield, Foden was compared by television pundit Roy Keane to legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady for the accuracy of his passes.

Foden was involved in Chilwell's goal before playing a fine pass for Saka to score.

Southgate was thrilled by the 21-year-old's display, saying Foden is so talented it is hard to quantify just how good he can become in future or where is best position is.

Foden has impressed for City playing in wide attacking roles, in a false nine berth and deeper in midfield.

"It is difficult (to predict his best position) because frankly he is one of those players who is effective anywhere across that front line," Southgate said.

"If you play him seven, 11, 10, eight. A sort of traditional 4-3-3 midfield with a six, eight, 10, if he was the 10 within that but with the capability to drop lower and build the play at times like he did tonight.

"Part of that is just as he gets stronger as well and part of that will be the balance of the type of player who plays as the other eight and their qualities.

"Look, it's fabulously exciting isn't it? When you are trying to break down a defence as we had tonight, and you've got a player who can see the passes he sees and can execute them in the way that he did.

"The quality we know. For us it's really interesting, the possibilities with him in terms of his positioning moving forward."

- 'Big change' -

While Foden appears to have the world at his feet, his England team-mate Jadon Sancho has been in a more difficult period.

Sancho moved to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund in the close-season, but has struggled in the Premier League after missing a penalty in England's Euro 2020 final shoot-out loss to Italy.

Southgate recently said Sancho's form this season was not worthy of an international call-up, but he kept faith with the 21-year-old and was rewarded with a more influential effort featuring two assists against Andorra.

"It is important that he got the assist because you've also got to have that productivity and the right pass or the right cross at the end of those passages of play," Southgate said.

"We shouldn't be surprised that for a young player to have such a big change in his life, new league, new club, different style of play, different training regime, back living in Manchester, moving house and everything that's involved in that, that's a lot to take in.

"So it's going to need time but he showed a lot of the qualities that he has (against Andorra) and I know that will come with the club as well."

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