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Foden's rise set to continue with England U19s

SHIELD WINNER: Foden after his fine Wembley display last month

SHIELD WINNER: Foden after his fine Wembley display last month

Phil Foden’s rise over the past 12 months has been sensational.

Last October, he starred as England won the Under-17 World Cup in India, thrust into the British public’s consciousness with a series of fine displays showcasing his range of passing, vision, skill and technical quality. He scored twice in the final against Spain in Kolkata as England came from 2-0 down to win 5-2, before deservedly being named as the Player of the Tournament.

With his reputation enhanced, he went on to make 10 first-team appearances for Manchester City last season. His debut came as a second-half substitute in the 1-0 win over Feyenoord in the Champions League, before making his first start two weeks later away at Shakhtar Donetsk, overtaking former Chelsea player Josh McEachran's record to become the youngest English player to be named in a starting lineup in Europe’s elite knock-out competition.

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He made his first Premier League appearance in the victory over Tottenham with a dazzling cameo at the Etihad Stadium, was nominated for the Golden Boy award, a prestigious accolade previously won by Mario Balotelli, Paul Pogba, Raheem Sterling and Kylian Mbappe, and won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.

It’s fair to say it was a glittering and memorable year for the 18-year-old Stockport-born midfielder.

And after a fine summer in the US on City’s preseason tour and perhaps his best performance in a blue shirt so far in the 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Community Shield, he shows no sign of slowing down.

Foden is a rare talent, a player honed by City’s academy since the age of nine who has an intuitive appreciation of time and space on a football field. Despite his relative inexperience, he always wants the ball and, when he gets it, is prepared to take risks - the kind of bravery reserved for the most talented youngsters. 

“It’s a long time since I saw something like this,” Pep Guardiola said in the summer of 2017, clearly impressed by what he had seen from Foden since taking charge of City. Guardiola, himself a fine midfield player, has high hopes for Foden. 

He has a skillset that is best utilised high up the field, supplying chances from a position just behind a striker. But he is also capable of playing a deeper role alongside a defensive-midfielder, where his passing can start moves and dictate the pace of games. He glides across the turf and makes the game look effortless, and has clearly spent the summer looking to bulk up in a bid to handle the physical aspect of the men's football. 

Later today, he could feature for England's Under-19 side in their game against Holland and, surely, if he continues to progress the way he has been, an Under-21 call-up isn’t far away. Indeed, there was plenty of speculation he could have been included in Gareth Southgate's senior side for the upcoming games against Spain and Switzerland, but after a fine World Cup in Russia, the England boss has made only subtle changes to his squad. His time will come. 

And he isn’t alone England’s great hope. Ryan Sessegnon, Rhian Brewster, Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi all have a chance of making an impression for the senior team at the 2022 World Cup. Our national game, for the first time in a generation, appears to be in good hands, with Foden seemingly at the forefront. 

Finding first-team chances at City, where competition for places is perhaps fiercer than at any other Club in the Premier League, won’t be easy. But when they come, expect Foden, with his supreme talent, to be capable of seizing them.

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