In Focus: Foden not getting his Phil stuck on City's bench
Manchester City are approaching the business end of a potentially historic campaign — and Phil Foden has lost his starting spot.
Pep Guardiola's team are looking to land a famous Treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and a maiden Champions League crown.
England international Foden, 22, recently had surgery to have his appendix removed and has been restricted to substitute appearances since his return.
Ahead of City's important league match with West Ham tonight, we look at Foden's chances of getting back into Guardiola's starting XI.
Foden returned to fitness ahead of the second leg of his side's Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich last month.
Speaking ahead of that match, Guardiola welcomed his availability, saying: "Definitely it's good news for us.
"He has trained just once yesterday but we decided he would travel with us and be on the bench.
"He is a special player who doesn't need a lot of training sessions to be fit. But he's important. Not just for tomorrow, but for the tight schedule we have ahead of us."
Foden did not feature in Munich, but he did come off the bench in the FA Cup semi-final win against Sheffield United — and in City's last two league matches.
He assisted the last goal in a crucial 4-1 win over title rivals Arsenal, despite only being introduced to the action in the 87th minute.
In 39 appearances across all competitions this season, Foden has scored 13 goals and set up six more.
Foden's versatility has seen him operate off both flanks, in central midfield and even as a false nine for City in recent years.
The Stockport-born star has regularly spearheaded City's attack in the past, but with Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez at the club, such opportunities are now rare.
This campaign has mostly seen him deployed on the left. However, the form of Jack Grealish in recent weeks has seen the former Aston Villa ace become Guardiola's first choice.
On the right, there is competition from Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva. Centrally, Kevin De Bruyne missed the game against Fulham, but it would seem that he will soon return to partner Ilkay Gundogan.
Unless there are injuries or a suspension, it is hard to see where Foden will regain his starting spot any time soon.
All Foden can really do in this situation is to keep making contributions from the bench, just as he did against the Gunners.
The crowded fixture list as City compete on three fronts should create opportunities for starts — particularly if they can secure the Premier League title early.
It is a frustrating situation for Foden, who will be desperate to showcase his talents on the biggest stages after shining at the winter World Cup in Qatar.
But the future still appears bright for the homegrown starlet.
The likes of Gundogan and Silva have both been strongly linked with summer moves away from the club, clearing a pathway for the No47 to start again.
Meanwhile, Mahrez is now 32 and De Bruyne will reach the same age this summer.
Though he is currently playing the waiting game, everything points to Foden becoming an important member of this team again before long.