Phil Foden and Jack Grealish Shine in England's Win Over Iceland

Ali Rampling
Nov 18, 2020, 10:26 PM GMT
Foden turned in a terrific performance against Iceland
Foden turned in a terrific performance against Iceland | Pool/Getty Images
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Gareth Southgate may not be able to squeeze Jack Grealish and Phil Foden into every single England starting XI when he has all of his illustrious attacking talents fully fit.

But the pair gave the Three Lions boss a big reminder of the different dimensions they can offer, and England fans a reminder of the diversity of forward talent the country currently has during England's 4-0 victory over Iceland on Wednesday,

Grealish impressed again
Grealish impressed again | Pool/Getty Images

Southgate selected a team brimming with fresh faces, and each of England's youngsters justified their inclusion in a comfortable victory.

Foden's wicked free kick was headed home by Declan Rice for the Three Lions' opener, before the typically lively Mason Mount doubled their advantage from close range.

Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho combined exquisitely to tee up Foden for England's third in the second half, before the Manchester City midfielder added a fourth with a sweetly struck effort from the edge of the box six minutes from time.

Rice and Mount complemented each other well, the former putting in a disciplined performance and shielding the back three to give the latter the freedom to roam.

England were 2-0 up at half time
England were 2-0 up at half time | Michael Regan/Getty Images

But of all the inexperienced international players who impressed, it was Grealish and Foden who shone the brightest.

The Aston Villa captain carried on from where he left off following his eye catching performance against Belgium on Sunday, riding challenges, drawing fouls and playing with the infectious fearlessness and adventurousness of a kid in the playground.

Foden was similarly impressive, his four-minute brace rounding off a mature, exciting display from the 20-year-old. He drifted between the lines and demonstrated a real bravery to demand the ball time and time again. His link up play was slick, he elegantly glided past Iceland players like they were cones and his first time touch and turn to escape from Olafur Ingi Skulason in the second half was simply exquisite.

Much has been made of Southgate's insistence on playing five at the back given the array of attacking talent he has at his disposal. England are spoilt with forward options at the moment, and whatever starting XI the Three Lions boss selects, there will always be complaints over someone not being included - because quite simply, even if you are Ian Holloway's Blackpool, you cannot play nine forwards.

But Southgate has the luxury of options, with Grealish and Foden offering something completely different to Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.

The pair were particularly effective against an Iceland side who were content to sit back, defend deep and frustrate England. In tournament football, Southgate's side will likely come up against a lot of teams set up like this.

Grealish and Foden are ideal in these kind of matches. Both players prefer the ball to feet as opposed to running in behind - which was not an option given how deep Iceland were defending. The pair's patience, intricate build up play and ability to unpick the stubborn opposition backline were such a weapon.

One England player who can demonstrate confidence, fearlessness and bravery on the ball is usually heralded as a generational talent. Gareth Southgate has the luxury of two.

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