Southgate backs Foden following redemption against Iceland and reflects on missing personnel

Southgate backs Foden following redemption against Iceland and reflects on missing personnel

Southgate appreciation

England’s 4-0 victory over Iceland saw Phil Foden bag his first senior international goal. The Manchester City starlet was sent home from the country’s camp back in September, after reportedly breaching quarantine rules.

However, he returned to the fold to face Iceland at Wembley, and recorded a brace. Gareth Southgate spoke afterwards of how impressed he was by Foden’s turnaround:

“I’m really pleased for him and his family, to have the experience he had in September is really tough for a youngster and we all make mistakes.”

“What we were intent on doing was making sure that when he came in this month in a difficult situation, you are walking in the door and you’re looking at everybody’s faces and you know the last time you saw them it was complicated,” said the England manager.

“It took him a few days I think to settle into the camp and start to smile and relax a bit more – then tonight we felt was a really good game for him.”

With the European Championships quickly approaching, Southgate has a wealth of attacking talent to choose from. The England boss was also quick to point towards the up-and-coming stars to have impressed following his side’s win on Wednesday:

“I think we are very conscious of a crop of young players coming through that we think will be fabulous for England for years to come. I think it was great for the public to get a glimpse of that.”

Hopeful of returns

Southgate was without Raheem Sterling, James Ward-Prowse, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford versus Iceland, after all four pulled out of international duty with respective injury problems.

Combined with the recent media controversies surrounding a number of England’s stars, the Three Lions have been faced with significant challenges of late.

And this is something which Southgate appears well aware of:

“We’ve been very, very close to achieving the objective,” Southgate said.

Southgate backs Foden following redemption against Iceland and reflects on missing personnel

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 22: Raheem Sterling of England celebrates as he scores his team’s fourth goal and completes his hat trick during the 2020 UEFA European Championships Group A qualifying match between England and Czech Republic at Wembley Stadium on March 22, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

“But we’ve also got to recognise that there are lessons we have got to learn from this period. We created dramas for ourselves on and off the pitch, which made life more complicated.”

“We’ve been nowhere near the availability of all of our players and we have got to have a look at why that has been and reflect on that – so that is the balance really.”

The next opportunity to test his squad will mark Southgate’s last before next summer’s Euros. Friendlies and international playoff games are scheduled between the 22nd and 30th of March. Injuries or improved form could yet see others handed the chance to impress for the Three Lions, with Southgate no doubt keeping a keen eye on all of England’s European Championship hopefuls.

Foden thanks Southgate for keeping faith in him after double against Iceland

This article was edited by Conor Laird.