In Focus: Malta display can be England springboard for impressive Foden
England were not at their best against Malta but Phil Foden still shone at Wembley.
The Manchester City star was a standout performer in Friday night's 2-0 win, as Gareth Southgate's men laboured to the sixth victory of their European Championship qualifying campaign.
Three Lions supporters will be hoping that Foden's latest display marks a change in his fortunes, after struggling to make an impact at international level in recent months.
Ahead of this evening's clash with North Macedonia, we consider how the 23-year-old can continue impressing for England.
Foden has registered five goals and four assists across all competitions for Manchester City this season.
However, he has been unable to replicate that output on the international stage, with just one England goal — in September's 3-1 friendly triumph over Scotland — since the 2022 World Cup.
There are undoubtedly mitigating factors, though.
The Citizens' No47 has only started three of nine games over that period, while also featuring in a variety of positions.
Consistent minutes could be key to unleashing Foden's potential with the Three Lions.
Catching the eye
Foden marked his 30th cap with an impressive display on Friday.
Starting on the right of a front three, he was the architect of the game's opening goal — bursting into the box before seeing his attempted delivery deflected into the net by Malta defender Enrico Pepe.
And a second half switch to a central attacking midfield role did little to diminish Foden's impact.
He completed more dribbles than any other player (four) and played the most key passes (three).
The ongoing debate around Foden's best position for England shows no signs of abating but Southgate believes he can be effective in a multitude of roles.
Speaking after the Malta victory, he said: "I feel he can do either. His quality in a wide position is good and as a No10 he can also provide that link.
"We were missing two 10s tonight and we have options in that position. Phil is a lovely footballer and was involved in most of our good play tonight."
With Bukayo Saka likely to be first choice on the right flank, that versatility could be key to Foden nailing down a starting berth for the Three Lions.
More to come
There is little danger of Foden resting on his laurels after Friday's positive performance and he is already looking to add more end product to his game.
He said: "I always want more for myself, I think I can add goals to this team — and assists.
"I was involved in both of the goals [against Malta], maybe we weren't at our best but we got the job done in the end and that's the most important thing.
"I'm enjoying my football a lot at the moment, I'm expressing myself, I'm playing really well. I need to keep that up, keep pushing myself to score more and get assists."
Tonight's match against North Macedonia will provide another opportunity for Foden to boost his international goal tally.
Adding that string to his bow will make City's homegrown hero impossible to ignore, when Southgate selects his first XI for Euro 2024.