Gareth Southgate raises Phil Foden doubts caused by ‘best coach in the world’

Gareth Southgate has raised doubts about Phil Foden shining in a central role for England.

The Three Lions boss believes if ‘best coach in the world’ Pep Guardiola doesn’t play the Manchester City star in the middle then why would he consider it. Foden, 23, has yet to really nail down a place in this England side despite his talents.

He started games in the World Cup but hasn’t since then and he came on as a sub in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine as the Three Lions’ winning run in Euro 2024 qualification came to a halt. The City ace may get a chance on Tuesday night against Scotland to show what he can do but Southgate is unsure about giving him the freedom in a central role.

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“He doesn’t [play there] for his club,” said Southgate. “So presumably there is a reason for that. It depends on the level of the game, really.

“In the middle of the park, everyone wants to talk about with the ball but there is a lot of detail without the ball. In games at the weekend, you are playing opponents who are so clever with their passing and movement that you have to be spot on with pressing angles, your responsibilities and if you don’t, you don’t get the flow of the game.

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“You’d have to speak to Pep, who is the best coach in the world, who plays him from wide. He’s always got the freedom to drift if we play him wide. And that’s important.”

Southgate seemed hesitant to make too many changes for Tuesday's clash at Hampden given it will be a hostile atmosphere in the fixture to mark 150 years since these two nations first met. But it would surely be an opportunity for Foden, 23, to display the form which has made him one of the most exciting young talents in European football.

“We are very happy with Phil,” said Southgate. "He’s played in the Euros, came on in the semi-final of the Euros and had a big impact, he’s played in World Cups for us, he’s only 23 years old, he’s got amazing experiences.

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“He is still progressing and learning but he is a super player for us to have.” There is still fierce competition in the wide roles while Southgate’s reluctance to move away from 4-3-3 means there’s little flexibility for him to play in a more central role with the likes of Jordan Henderson ahead of him in the three-man midfield.

“We have expectations of every player and he’s a player who has been with us from a young age and was on the team that won the junior (Under-17) World Cup,” added Southgate.

"But he’s battling against Bukayo [Saka] and Marcus [Rashford] and all of the other players we have in that area of the pitch for us.

“And at his club, with an incredibly high level of players – again we are not involved in his day-to-day development.

“But I’m sure that Pep would feel the same, he has played in really important matches for them, in a team that has won so much, so we are happy with his progress.”

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