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Phil Foden named in England’s starting line-up for Euro 2021 opener

Picture the scene, it’s an hour before England’s opening game of Euro 2020 (even though it’s 2021).

You’re already sunburned and flirting with dehydration when your check your phone and see Gareth Southgate has named Phil Foden in his starting line-up.

Such a scenario became all the more plausible after Man City’s drubbing of Burnley on Monday night.


Too much?

Too much?

The 20-year-old midfielder scored twice as Pep Guardiola’s side flexed on the Clarets in an empty Etihad, but neither of Foden’s goals were the highlight of his impressive performance, though the first was clean strike from outside the box.

The Stockport Iniesta – a nickname that is getting less ridiculous with each passing game – played a beautiful disguised pass in the build-up to David Silva’s goal, City’s fourth, that had the video-linked fans on the big screen behind the goal purring.

Replays showed he concealed the true nature of the pass until the very last moment, selling a lie to Burnley’s panicked defence with his scheming eyes.

It was fitting that Silva was the man to finish the move, as it was the type of pass he has played hundreds of times since becoming an honorary Mancunian.

Master, apprentice

Master, apprentice

After the game, Guardiola said: “When David said it was his last year, I told the board we have Phil so we don’t have to invest.”

Certainly there are echoes of the great Spaniard in City’s homegrown hero; City’s structure only failed to cut through Sean Dyche’s troops when Foden and Silva felt drawn to the same square foot of turf.

And the only pass in the same realm as Foden’s masked wonder was Silva’s perfectly delayed shuffle to Bernardo Silva when the Portuguese international lashed his right-footed shot wide.

With El Mago currently on his farewell tour of the Premier League, Foden’s patience will be imminently rewarded.

The next generation

The next generation

It’s worth remembering that the general consensus among City’s youth coaches was that Foden was the very best of a crop that also included Brahim Diaz and Jadon Sancho.

The Stockport-born starlet has watched Diaz sign for Real Madrid and Sancho become one of Europe’s most prominent wingers at Borussia Dortmund, all while being drip-fed first team action, mostly in the form of cup fixtures against lower league opposition and seven-minute substitute cameos.

Guardiola’s suggestion that there is no need to sign a replacement for Silva with Foden at the club suggest the youngster will be a first team regular in 2020/21.

Silva averages 44 appearances per full campaign since joining City, meaning Foden’s workload could triple next season.

Foden and Sancho for City’s Under 18s

Foden and Sancho for City’s Under 18s

Though he may not be utilised in Silva’s role permanently, as the performance against Burnley showed Guardiola is comfortable using him in the front three.

In this regard he is more similar to Bernardo Silva and may help compensate for Leroy Sane’s seemingly inevitable departure.

Reverting back to the opening scenario, in which Foden is starting for England, he may well do so after scooping the Young Player of the Year Award.

To predict the outcome of an individual award for a season that has not yet commenced is a foolish pursuit, but a betting man would be interested in Foden’s odds.

Guardiola has often been asked whether City’s young talent was going to waste but if Foden, aged 20, does start regularly next season for a club with near unparalleled resources then the nurtured transition must ultimately be judged a success.

As for the crystal ball’s prediction, whether it means anything for England’s chances next summer remains to be seen.