Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood’s superb post-lockdown performances sealed their places in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
The Manchester City and Manchester United youngsters were handed their first senior call-ups, along with Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, when Southgate confirmed a 24-man party for next month’s Nations League trips to Iceland and Denmark.
Five of Foden’s six career Premier League goals came in the period immediately after the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, as the 20-year-old became an increasingly influential performer for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Meanwhile, no teenager has ever scored more goals in a single season for United as Greenwood did across all competitions in 2019-20 – his 17 matching the exploits of club greats George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney.
“They’ve both been very impressive with our junior teams and they were excellent in the period immediately post-lockdown for their clubs,” Southgate said.
“Both played big matches, important matches at big clubs and had a big impact.
“They have the potential to be England internationals for a long time to come.
“As always, that is up to them and their mentality and the way they play. But we have belief in them and we’re really looking forward to working with them.
“If you’re within football, you’ve known about these two boys for a long time.”
17 – No teenager has ever scored more goals in a single season in all competitions for @ManUtd than Mason Greenwood (17 – level with George Best in 1965-66, Brian Kidd in 1967-68 and Wayne Rooney in 2004-05). Esteem. pic.twitter.com/GiXnZsnZ5W
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 22, 2020
Foden had to bide his time for regular action in a talent-stacked City squad, having made his debut from the bench as a 17-year-old in the Champions League against Feyenoord in November 2017.
“Phil, we’ve watched for a long time,” Southgate said. “We felt at times last year that it was better for him to get football with our Under-21s.
“There were moments when he wasn’t getting regular game time and we felt [playing for England U21s] was a good part of his development.
“But we’ve known that he was likely to be a player that would be involved with the England senior team and we feel that now is a good moment to do that.”
Southgate conceded there had been an element of fast-tracking for the 18-year-old Greenwood, due to him making an irrefutable case through sheer weight of goals.
“If you’d said to me three or four months ago, we’d have probably been saying we know there’s a high-quality player having a very good season, but maybe it’s a bit too early to put him up to the senior team,” he said
“But the reality is that his performances and his goalscoring have been so good that he’s earned the right.
Southgate added: “They give us competition for places in the squad, they give us a high level of player and they can now go and grab that opportunity.”
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