Facing questions concerning the absence of Phil Foden as England battled to an uninspiring goalless draw against the United States, Gareth Southgate assured that he was going to play a key role for the Three Lions in the World Cup. The City midfielder-turned-winger was restored to the starting line-up against Wales on Tuesday night.
Although England would have qualified with just a draw, the team needed a win to serve as a morale booster heading into the knockout stages. Marcus Rashford and Foden stepped up to provide the goals as the three lions secured a comfortable 3-0 win.
As expected, England dominated all aspects of the game and also put the ball in the back of the net unlike in the second group game. Rashford is enjoying a rich vein of form that has seen him score three goals for Manchester United in the six games heading into the tournament. He has now bagged another three in the group stage.
Foden on the other hand has a point to prove as he failed to start in each of the first two games. He appeared only as a 71st-minute substitute in the 6-2 win over Iran. Starting against Wales, the 22-year-old needed to put up a big performance to make a case for his continuous inclusion in the starting IX.
That he did, turning home Harry Kane’s cross to put his side 2-0 up shortly after Rashford blasted home a free-kick for the opener. He played the full game and was lively throughout.
Although Southgate has pinpointed Foden as key to England’s progression in the competition, there remains strong competition for places in the team especially in the attack. All of Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount were left on the bench on Tuesday. But after good performances against Iran, they will likely feature going forward.
But if Southgate’s comments on Foden are anything to go by, he will definitely have his time in the sun.
“We love Phil, he’s a super player,” Southgate said after leaving him on the bench against the United States.
“He’s going to play a big part in this tournament for us.”
With a strong performance against Wales, the young forward has repaid his manager’s faith in him. That will pave the way for a more influential role in the team moving forward.