Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Foden grateful for Guardiola´s patience as he looks forward to Sancho reunion

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Sep 2020

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Phil Foden is grateful for Pep Guardiola’s patient approach with him at Manchester City as he prepares to potentially make his senior England bow.

Foden, 20, has been highly rated in both the England and City setups for years, but particularly since 2017 when he was awarded the Golden Ball at the Under-17 World Cup, which the Three Lions won.

He was given his City debut the same year and has steadily seen more first-team football, playing 10 games across all competitions in 2017-18, 26 the following campaign and then 38 in 2019-20.

The majority of those appearances have been as a substitute and Guardiola has, on occasion, fielded criticism for perhaps seeming cautious about playing Foden, particularly after seeing Jadon Sancho leave for Borussia Dortmund due to fears over a lack of first-team opportunities.

But the coming season looks set to see Foden take another step forward in his development as he tries to fill the void left by David Silva, and while some fans might have wanted him to break into the starting XI regularly a bit sooner, the midfielder believes Guardiola has got it right.

“I played in some massive games this year,” Foden told reporters after earning his maiden call-up to Gareth Southgate’s senior England team.

“I’ve played cup finals and big Champions League games. They’re the games everyone wants to play in.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for a young player in these games. [Guardiola’s] been patient with me and played me at the right times, and now I’m learning a lot and I feel ready to go.

“I’m only 20 years old. A lot of people have been pushing it [an England call-up]. I haven’t played a lot of games at Manchester City but recently been playing more and doing well, so I had to work hard for the opportunity.

“He [Guardiola] just wants to see a good attitude and see you training well. I go to train every day at 100 per cent and that’s where you can’t go wrong really – come off the field knowing you’ve given everything to get in the team.

“That’s what I try and do. If I get in the team, I know I’ve earned it. That’s how I work and I think that’s what he likes about me.”

His call-up could result in Foden playing alongside his former youth team colleague Sancho, a sight many City fans will rue not being able to enjoy on a regular basis at club level.

With Foden, Sancho and Mason Greenwood, who is also in the squad for the first time, England have three of world football’s most promising youngsters at their disposal, and the City midfielder is relishing being alongside them.

“I first spoke to Mason in the Under-21s when he first came, so we’ve been close friends ever since,” he continued.

“I’m very happy for him to get the call-up, it shows Gareth isn’t scared to throw him in, and he’s only 18.

“Everyone’s got so much quality and it would be nice to play with Jadon again as I used to play with him in the youth teams, so it’ll be nice to play with him again.”

Foden made it clear that he sees Silva’s City departure as an opportunity, yet he respectfully reflected on the club icon’s talents and feels a better player for working with him.

“I’m hoping so,” he said when asked if he could be the one to fill Silva’s boots. “But there’s a lot of midfielders and a lot of quality.

“[Guardiola’s] not just going to give me that position. Everyone needs to play and train well. It depends on me, really. If I’m playing well enough I’ll get the shirt, so it’s down to me.”

On what made Silva so special, Foden added: “It’s what he sees, he sees the game so differently to other players.

“How he moves into space in tight areas, how he receives the ball and never loses it. All these things. I’ve learned so much from him.”

England face Iceland and Denmark in their upcoming Nations League games on Saturday and Tuesday.

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