Southgate promises England fans will get their Phil
Gareth Southgate claims Phil Foden still has a pivotal role to play for England at the World Cup.
The Three Lions boss has come under fire following last Friday’s goalless draw with the United States, with his refusal to turn to the Manchester City star prompting widespread criticism.
Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Roy Keane were among a cluster of ex-pros to question why Foden — who has seven goals and three assists in 14 Premier League appearances this term — was left kicking his heels as an unused sub at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Expected to ring the changes ahead of Tuesday’s final Group B game against Wales, Southgate has hinted the 22-year-old playmaker is in line for a starting berth.
Asked about Foden’s lack of action, he said: "Phil is a super player. We think the world of him and he is going to play a big part for us.
"He’s obviously been involved in the first game [vs Iran]. We decided not to put him into the second but he is going to play an important role in this tournament.
"There is no question about that. We haven’t got any issue with Phil."
Having been handed his senior debut by Southgate in September 2020, Foden has scored two goals in 19 caps for his country.
It has not always been a smooth journey at international level, with Foden finding himself dropped after making his first appearance for breaking coronavirus protocols.
But Southgate, 52, is confident insists the versatile attacker will always be a reliable option he can turn to when the circumstances are right.
He added: "In September, Phil started both games for us.
"We put him into the game against Iran. We decided to stick with that starting team and felt the changes required something a little bit different for the game with the United States.
"He can play on the wing. He can play as a false nine and he can play behind the striker — though he doesn't do that as often for his club.
"He is very flexible. He works hard for the team and of course he has got fabulous technical ability."
Since Euro 2020, all of Foden’s England appearances have seen him deployed in a central berth, suggesting Mason Mount could be the man to make way against the Dragons.
Victory over Rob Page’s men will see England top Group B, while anything but a four-goal defeat will be enough to secure progress to the knockout phase.