England fans have called for Phil Foden to get a World Cup start against Wales on Tuesday after there was a lack of attacking invention in the dour goalless draw with the United States
Gareth Southgate has warned about putting too much “pressure” on Phil Foden.
England boss Southgate insists Foden will have “an important part to play” at the World Cup but warned of the dangers of all the spotlight being on him. There has been a huge public clamour for the Manchester City star to start against Wales after he was left on the bench against the United States.
Southgate admits he recognises the push for 22-year-old Foden from similar campaigns to get Jack Grealish or Marcus Rashford into starting line-ups. Southgate said: “We have to be careful because we are putting a lot of pressure on him now. We’re a team and we need all of the players and they can all play a part but not any one of them is the reason we will win or lose.
“And we need to make sure we are not building Phil into as situation where actually if he steps on the pitch this is becoming really difficult for him because the level of expectation is beyond a young guy who is still establishing himself internationally.
“He is in a different environment from his club where you’re comfortable with all the players you play with, it’s really distinctive, you’re going home every night, you’re calm with everything else.
“This is still a unique environment. He is still a really young player and he’s doing brilliantly well and we love him to bits. We also have got to look after him a bit as well.”
Southgate’s message seemed to be a push back on Foden starting against Wales but he has played similar mind games before and clearly he wants to take the heat out of the situation. But Southgate was keen to stress just how well Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka have played for England in recent times.
Southgate added: “We have just got really good players. Bukayo has been an outstanding player in the league this year. Raheem has scored 20 goals in 80 caps for England. Jack Grealish and Marcus are also in good form.
“We are really happy with Phil, we are really happy to have Phil. He is going to play a big part in this tournament, there is no doubt in my mind about that.
“We’re happy with how he is, we’re happy with how he is training. He’s bright, he’s ready and he’s a good player. We’re blessed we’ve got some exciting players.”