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Gareth Southgate questions Phil Foden’s desire to play in a central role

England manager Gareth Southgate has raised questions about Phil Foden’s desire to play in a central midfield role, citing the player’s current wide position at Manchester City as a key factor in his skepticism.

Foden, 23, expressed his interest in transitioning to central midfield earlier this year, stating that he has always envisioned himself playing in that role.

However, his club manager, Pep Guardiola, has consistently deployed him in a wide position, a choice that has influenced Southgate’s tactical approach with the England national team.

Southgate remarked, “He doesn’t [play centrally] for his club, so presumably there’s a reason for that. You’d have to speak with Pep Guardiola, the best coach in the world, who plays him from wide.

He’s always got the freedom to drift if we play him wide, and that’s important. It depends on the level of the game, really.”

The debate over Foden’s ideal position has intensified following England’s recent 1-1 draw against Ukraine, during which the team’s midfield displayed a more conservative style of play.

Southgate emphasized that playing centrally entails a higher level of responsibility, both in terms of offensive and defensive duties.

“In the middle of the park, everybody wants to talk about them with the ball, but there’s a lot of detail without the ball,” Southgate explained.

“In games like at the weekend [against Ukraine], you’re playing opponents that are so clever with their passing and movement that you’ve really got to be spot on with pressing angles, your responsibilities. If you don’t, then you don’t have the flow of the game.”

The discussion about Phil Foden’s best position for both club and country continues, with Southgate and Guardiola’s perspectives contributing to the ongoing debate.

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