England manager Gareth Southgate has praised Phil Foden for prioritising his off the ball work over the “sexy” side of his game during the narrow win over Serbia.

The newly crowned FWA Footballer of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season failed to catch the eye in England’s Euro 2024 opener but is expected to get another chance to impress on Thursday when the Three Lions take on Denmark.

Ahead of that game game, Southgate explained why he was so impressed by Foden last time out.

“I thought Phil did an incredible job for the team on Sunday,” the boss said. “You know, sometimes the bits with the ball are obvious and they catch the eye, but the amount of ground he covered, the angles of pressing, the filling in for people who were further forward.

“I thought without Phil’s contribution without the ball – and I know that’s not the sexy bit and everybody wants to see him on the ball – I don’t think we win the game. Then, later in the game when we needed somebody to retain the ball and take the pressure, I thought he did that really well for us.”

Gareth SouthgateGareth Southgate

Southgate is sticking with Foden / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Southgate went on to admit that Foden is still learning how to translate the success he enjoys in Manchester City‘s system into strong performances for England.

“I think Phil has obviously set an incredibly high bar at Manchester City, where he knows exactly where every player is going to be every time he picks the ball up.

“A club that he’s been at since he’s been 13-years-old. He used to go in there during the week for training, so an environment that he’s known nothing else. With us, we’re always having to adapt to different team-mates, different runs they make and there is adaptation with that.”


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