England

Gareth Southgate lauds 'fabulously exciting' Phil Foden display

Toby Cudworth
Phil Foden shone as Jack Grealish opened his international goalscoring account
Phil Foden shone as Jack Grealish opened his international goalscoring account / Michael Regan/GettyImages
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Gareth Southgate was understandably delighted with Phil Foden's show-stopping performance during England's 5-0 win over Andorra in World Cup qualifying.

The 21-year-old played in a deep-lying playmaker role as part of a central midfield three, and ran the show as the Three Lions cruised, as expected, to a routine win at the Estadi Nacional.

Although Andorra were never likely to pose much of a threat or test the defensive side of Foden's game, it's hard to argue that the performance from the Manchester City star going forward was anything but brilliant.

His passing had laser like precision, his vision was extraordinary, and his execution near flawless in a display that offers great hope for his and England's future.

“Frankly he is one of those players who is effective anywhere across the front line if you play him 7, 11, 10, 8,” an impressed Southgate remarked to the media after the final whistle.

“A traditional 4-3-3 midfield with a 6, 8, 10, if he was the 10 within that but with the capability to drop lower and build the play at times, as he did tonight, I think part of that is just as he gets stronger as well and part of that is the balance of the type of player who might play as the 8 with those qualities.

“But it’s fabulously exciting, isn’t it, when you’re trying to break down a defence, as we have tonight, and you have a player who sees the passes that he sees and hits them and executes them in the way he did. Towards the end of the game there were some lovely combinations between Foden, Mount, Grealish, Saka. The type of play our players are capable of producing is really exciting.”

There were also eye-catching displays from Jadon Sancho and Tammy Abraham, but Foden was the one who stood head and shoulders above the rest - giving Southgate plenty to think about for England's upcoming games.

“It’s really interesting, the possibilities with him in terms of his positioning moving forward,” Southgate added. “Today was a perfect game because there was no defending needed. You’re only analysing one part of the game because it’s a certain level of opponent. Nevertheless to see the passes and to hit the passes that he did is apparent for everybody.

“As one or two others in that midfield area get stronger I think it’s really exciting how we might evolve as a team in certain matches and how that balance and creativity might progress. I’m not surprised that his performance was the standout. We half expected it when we named the team.”

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