England coach Gareth Southgate is worried about the weight of expectations from media and fans on his 22-year-old midfielder Phil Foden.
There has been a public demand for the Manchester City player to start in England’s final Group B game against Wales on Tuesday after he did not play against the USA in a goalless draw. So far, Foden has made just one appearance in the Qatar World Cup, in England’s 6-2 win over Iran, as a substitute.
“We have to be careful because we are putting a lot of pressure on him now. We are a team and we need all of the players, and they can all play a part but not any one of them is the reason we will win or lose,” said Southgate.
Foden is one of the youngest members of the squad, and England’s failure to penetrate the USA defence has led to calls for Foden’s return into the Playing XI.
“We need to make sure we are not building Phil into a situation where actually if he steps on the pitch this is becoming really difficult for him because the level of expectation is beyond a young guy who is still establishing himself internationally,” added the coach.
Southgate also said playing for the national team in the World Cup is different from appearing in the club jersey in a comfortable environment.
“He is in a different environment from his club where you’re comfortable with all the players you play with, it’s really distinctive, you’re going home every night, you’re calm with everything else,” said Southgate.
“This is still a unique environment. He is still a really young player and he’s doing brilliantly well we love him to bits. We also have got to look after him a bit as well,” he added.
England’s forward line currently comprises Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount. Harry Kane, who sustained a foot injury, is fit for the Wales game.