England boss Gareth Southgate has dismissed the idea of playing Phil Foden centrally for the Three Lions, telling those criticising the decision to ‘speak with Pep’ over why the midfielder cannot play behind the striker.
Foden has always been one of Englands supreme talents since his emergence on the youth scene, and believes that he does his best work centrally behind a striker.
He explained in March that the no.10 role was one he wanted “to move into over the next few years” and that he has “always seen myself playing there”.
However, his managers disagree. Pep Guardiola has largely used the Englishman either on the left or the right, and he has also struggled to break into the England side in either of these roles with the performances of Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford keeping him out of the XI.
There has been clamour for him to move centrally, into the role that James Maddison took up against Ukraine and Jude Bellingham has excelled in for Real Madrid this season.
However, Southgate has poured cold water on any suggestion of that.
“He doesn’t [play centrally] for his club, so presumably there’s a reason for that,” said the Three Lions boss.
“You’d have to speak with Pep [Guardiola], the best coach in the world, who plays him from wide. He’s always got the freedom to drift if we play him wide and that’s important. It depends on the level of the game, really.”
Pressed further, Southgate added.
“Obviously in the middle of the park everybody wants to talk about them with the ball, but there’s a lot of detail without the ball.
“In games like at the weekend [against Ukraine], you’re playing opponents that are so clever with their passing and movement that you’ve really got to be spot on with pressing angles, your responsibilities.
“If you don’t, then you don’t have the flow of the game, you don’t get the flow of the game.”
Foden could be a chance to start on the wing when England face Scotland in a friendly on Tuesday, but any chances of the 23-year-old moving centrally could well have to be put on ice.