England manager Gareth Southgate has attempted to justify why Manchester City star Phil Foden was an unused substitute against the USA on Friday night. The Three Lions were booed off of the pitch in Qatar after looking significantly off the pace throughout the encounter.
Southgate’s side struggled to create chances during their Group B clash and captain Harry Kane was starved of any opportunities until the 93rd minute, when he headed wide following a free-kick. With that in mind, many felt that it was the ideal time to bring Foden on to the pitch to attempt to make the difference, but he was overlooked.
Asked why after the match, Southgate explained: “We thought it was the right thing to keep the team from the start then the wide players we went with Jack (Grealish) and Marcus (Rashford) ahead of Phil (Foden) for the changes.
“Jack can keep the ball well for us and get us up the pitch, Marcus’ speed we thought would also be a threat going into the last part of the game.”
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Southgate also revealed that he was ‘pleased’ with the performance of his side, which does not mathematically book their place in the knockout stages of the competition despite their win over Iran previously. He continued: “(It was) Exactly the sort of game I thought it’d be, really tough, a good opponent who are very athletic.
“I knew it would be difficult after such a high to replicate that performance. I’m pleased with how the players applied themselves, some of our quality in the final third could’ve been better but we’ve shown resilience against an opponent who asked questions, we’ve controlled the game well from the back but not been able to open up that clear chance.”