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Phil Foden's Euro 2020 was hampered by injury - but there were glimpses of class

Ross Jackson
Foden is a star in the making
Foden is a star in the making /
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England's Euro 2020 squad would have looked very different had the tournament been played when originally scheduled.

The postponement allowed the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Bukayo Saka to work their way into Gareth Southgate's plans, and Manchester City man Phil Foden is another who definitely benefitted from the delay.

The 21-year-old's stellar displays for City in the 2020/21 season saw England fans crying out for him to be named in Southgate's starting XI for the Three Lions' opening game of the tournament against Croatia, and they got their wish as he was afforded his chance on the right of a front three.

Phil Foden showed glimpses of brilliance at Euro 2020
Phil Foden showed glimpses of brilliance at Euro 2020 / Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images

One of the hallmarks of England's Euro 2020 campaign ultimately proved to be their ability to race out of the blocks early on in games, and Foden was key to England's fast start against Zlatko Dalic's side.

Every time the youngster had the ball at his feet you could hear the buzz of excitement from the crowd, as he faced up to full-back Josko Gvardiol before drifting past him with ease.

The City man came within inches of handing his side the perfect start as he brought Raheem Sterling's through ball under his spell before manoeuvring himself a yard of space and curling a brilliant effort against the base of the post.

With England's opener failing to materialise, Southgate withdrew Foden in the second half as he looked to inject a little more pace into the frontline. Though the warm embrace awaiting him from the England boss as he made his way towards the touchline told you everything you needed to know about his display.

Phil Foden is welcomed off the field by Gareth Southgate against Croatia
Phil Foden is welcomed off the field by Gareth Southgate against Croatia / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Having been handed his second start of the tournament in the Three Lions' next outing against Scotland, Foden found himself shackled by a well-drilled backline who'd clearly pinpointed him as the man to watch.

The City forward's only moment of magic came in the first half as he collected a long ball over the top as though his boot was smothered in super glue before firing his left-footed effort marginally wide of the far post.

With England's passage through to the knockout stages already confirmed prior to their game against the Czech Republic, Southgate afforded his young star a rest for their final group outing, though it was a decision that would prove to almost spell the end of Foden's campaign.

Saka's introduction into the starting XI against the Czechs saw the Arsenal man produce a superb display, and from that point onwards Foden would be given nothing more than a place on the England bench.

Phil Foden is tracked by Denmark's Joachim Andersen
Phil Foden is tracked by Denmark's Joachim Andersen / Visionhaus/Getty Images

Following England's win against the Czech Republic, the only times Saka wasn't named on the right-hand side of England's frontline was when Jadon Sancho was given the nod against Ukraine, and in the final against Italy as Southgate altered his system slightly.

Foden's only appearance in the knockout stages came as an extra-time substitute against Denmark in the semi-final, before an injury picked up in training cruelly denied him the opportunity to represent his country in the showpiece event at Wembley.

We'll probably never know how much of a part Foden would have played against Italy were his campaign not curtailed by injury, but his three appearances at this summer's tournament have only served to further inflate his growing profile as one of Europe's top young talents.

Yes Phil Foden is star of the future, but he's also a star for now, and come the World Cup next year he'll be key to England's hopes.


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