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World Cup 2022: Phil Foden is key for England, says Gareth Southgate

Phil Foden will play ‘big part’ for England – Gareth Southgate
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

Manchester City playmaker Phil Foden still has a “big part” to play in England’s World Cup campaign despite his limited role in the first two group matches, says manager Gareth Southgate.

Foden came on after 71 minutes in the 6-2 win over Iran and was unused in the drab 0-0 draw with the United States.

“We love Phil, he’s a super player,” said Southgate, who has guided England to four points from two games in Qatar.

“He’s going to play a big part in this tournament for us.”

Foden, who has scored seven goals in 14 Premier League games for Manchester City this season, has earned 19 England caps since making his debut in 2020.

However, after being introduced late in England’s opening Group B win against Iran, he was left on the bench during the goalless draw with the US as Southgate instead chose to bring on Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford in the quest for a breakthrough.

While Southgate acknowledges it is impossible to keep everyone happy, he praised Foden’s attitude before Tuesday’s final group game against Wales.

“Phil’s mentality to training and the way he’s approaching everything is excellent,” added Southgate.

Phil Foden
Foden (left) was an unused substitute in England’s scoreless draw with the United States on Friday

Southgate also says Foden’s multiple attributes mean he can fit into the team in various roles.

“There are different possibilities. He can play on either flank and can play as a false nine if we chose to do that,” he added.

“He can play off a striker, although he doesn’t do that as much at club level so that’s maybe applicable to certain games or certain moments.

“He’s a very flexible player in terms of the attributes he has and where he can have an impact. He’s a goal threat, which is also very important.”

England need to avoid a four-goal defeat on Tuesday to progress to the last 16, while Wales must win and hope for a draw between the United States and Iran to stand any chance of progressing.

Southgate dismissed suggestions he and his team faced added pressure from taking on another home nation.

“None more than normal. We recognise this is a game with a lot of focus because it’s a local derby, but we’re England – everyone wants to beat us,” Southgate said.

“There are high expectations every time we’re on the pitch. We’ve got to focus on playing as well as we can while showing that composure and ruthlessness that’s going to be needed to win.”

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