Jamie Carragher has questioned Gareth Southgate’s ‘baffling’ decision to leave Phil Foden on the bench in England’s disappointing goalless draw against USA and Friday.
After hammering Iran 6-2 on Monday, Southgate opted to go with an unchanged line-up, meaning Foden was named among the substitutes again.
It quickly became apparent that this wasn’t going to be a one-sided affair, but as the England boss turned to his substitutes in the second half, he brought on Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford to replace Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka, leaving Foden to watch on from the sidelines.
Phil Foden was left on the bench in England’s draw against USA on Friday night
Gareth Southgate turned to Jack Grealish (C) and Marcus Rashford (R) ahead of Foden
Jamie Carragher thinks it is ‘baffling’ that Foden did not come off the bench after half time
Foden has played just 19 minutes in the tournament so far after coming on as a late substitute against Iran, but Carragher feels this needs to change, and has admitted his surprise that the Manchester City star has been used so sparingly.
‘I was among those hoping Gareth Southgate would turn to the Manchester City youngster. It was baffling that he remained on the bench when the game was crying out for his creativity,’ Carragher wrote in his column for The Telegraph.
‘If you had told me before the tournament that Foden would only feature for 19 minutes of the first two World Cup games, my initial thought would be he must be injured.
‘When asked to select my starting XI for the opening fixture against Iran, Foden was in it. The more the squad was studied, the harder it was to leave him out. He is too much of a special talent.
‘Speak to any football supporter watching the Premier League over the last three years and ask ‘who is the most naturally gifted English footballer today?’ and 80 per cent would say Foden. The other 20 per cent are not watching closely enough.
‘For Southgate to turn to his substitutes and opt for his City team-mate Jack Grealish ahead of him felt strange. Would Pep Guardiola look to Grealish before Foden if seeking a winning goal? Highly unlikely.’
Carragher has questioned why Pep Guardiola puts his faith in Foden but Southgate doesn’t
In his 19 caps for England, Foden has found the net just twice, and Carragher has conceded that the 22-year-old is yet to replicate his City form for the Three Lions.
Carragher sees similarities between Foden and former Liverpool winger John Barnes, who also struggled to reproduce his club form on the international stage at times.
He feels Southgate should be keen to avoid history repeating itself, and needs to find a spot for Foden in his team, claiming that the City attacker would get into other top international sides.
‘Foden has had plenty of opportunities for England, so it is not as if Southgate has ignored him. But although it is very early in his career, there have been times watching Foden playing for his country when his situation has reminded me of John Barnes in his heyday,’ Carragher added.
‘For those too young to remember, between 1987-91, Barnes was not only the most talented England player of his generation, he was streets ahead of the rest. Think of Thierry Henry during his peak years at Arsenal. That is how good Barnes was for Liverpool.
‘Yet for England, he was a shadow of himself.
Carragher admires Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling, but feels Foden needs to play more
Carragher has said Foden would get into Spain’s team, and should be playing for England
‘The question was often asked whether the problem was Barnes or England. Surely it cannot be so difficult to accommodate a rare talent?
‘It is imperative history does not repeat itself with Foden. Already, it is a shame he is not one of the first picks in the starting line-up, let alone the first go-to player from the bench.
‘When Foden played in the last Euros you would have thought it certain he would be established in the side by now. Instead, others have jumped ahead of him.
‘I really like Bukayo Saka and have no criticism about his selection given his Arsenal form. I also understand the loyalty to Raheem Sterling who has been one of the best players in the Southgate era.
‘Over the last few days we have been rightly talking about Jude Bellingham a lot.
‘But can it just be shrugged aside what Foden has been doing in the Premier League? To me, he eclipses those chosen ahead of him. I truly believe if he was Spanish he would be in their first XI.’
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