England star ‘expected’ to start World Cup opener admits Neymar, Mbappe are ‘way above him’

England trio Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and John Stones Credit: Alamy
England trio Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and John Stones Credit: Alamy

Phil Foden has reportedly impressed England manager Gareth Southgate enough to earn a start against Iran on Monday.

The Three Lions get their World Cup campaign underway against Carlos Queiroz’s side.

Should he play, it will be Foden’s first appearance in the showpiece tournament.

England go into the tournament as one of the favourites and take on Wales, Iran and the United States in Group B.

Currently training in Al Wakrah, Southgate, his staff and players are currently getting used to the climate in Qatar and invited migrant workers to their training session on Thursday.

With eight goals and three assists from 20 appearances for Manchester City this season, Foden goes into the tournament in good form.

And his form at club level and training in Qatar should be enough to see him start against Iran, according to the Daily Mail.

The report states that Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount are also pushing to start.

There are only a handful of names guaranteed to start for England under Southgate.

Captain Harry Kane will be the first player on the teamsheet, while Jordan Pickford, Declan Rice and John Stones should be in Southgate’s strongest starting XI.

The England boss has a plethora of attacking talent to choose from, with Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson, Jack Grealish and James Maddison also in his squad.

While Foden is one of the best young players in the world, he does not believe he is on the same level as Paris Saint-Germain duo Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

The PSG stars go into the tournament full of confidence and their respective teams – France and Brazil – are both seriously fancied to win it all in Qatar.

When asked if he feels like he is in the same group of elite players as Neymar and Mbappe, Foden told ESPN: “No, definitely not.

“The people you’ve just mentioned there are way above me at the moment but I like to think I could be there one day.

“It’s all about taking small steps in the right direction. I just want to take my club form into the national team. With my club form this year, I’ve been scoring a lot of goals and I want to bring that to the national team.

“I’ve got to score in big games and big finals to be world class. I know I’m capable of doing that so it’s something I strive for and look forward to.

“Have England seen the best of me? Definitely not. I don’t think it is easy coming into a team and not knowing the players very well.

“You have to learn to play with different players and what they like best — running behind, or wanting balls to feet. Just little details like that. I have had enough experience in the England team to understand the players. Hopefully I can bring that into the World Cup.

“I definitely should have scored a lot more for England really. We have quality in every area on the season, so we can’t always rely on Harry because teams are going to try to cut him off, because of how good he is.

“It is going to take not just Harry to step up this tournament. Us attacking players are going to have to step up as well as times.”

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