Foden offers solution to England midfielder playmaker problem: CityAM
Games like Andorra away represent a sort of hideout for England, which also happens to be what they served in the Pyrenees on Saturday night.
But with qualifying for the World Cup safe, that 5-0 victory was more encouraging for any clues to Gareth Southgate’s plans evolution than it revealed than the score.
Southgate made 10 changes, essentially fielding a shadow XI, and they delivered an impressive performance that underscored the depth of talent at his disposal.
The most eye-catching was the exceptional Phil Foden, deployed in a deeper midfield role than he is used to playing for England or Manchester City.
Foden pulverized defensive diagonal passes behind the Andorran defense with such consistency that Roy Keane compared him to an NFL quarterback during ITV coverage.
England’s first two goals, scored by Ben Chilwell and Bukayo Saka, came from Foden’s assists and he dictated play all night.
It raised the tantalizing prospect of filling England’s long-standing vacancy for a midfielder playmaker, and Southgate admitted that Foden’s relocation could be a more regular event as he tries to tweak ahead of next year’s Winter World Cup in Qatar.
“It’s something that intrigues us,” he said. “I think in his club he usually plays wide, sometimes in eight. It’s an interesting experience for us over the next 12 months to see these midfield positions, different profiles and players, to see where we can take the team.
Abraham advances his case to be England center-forward
Almost a year after her last appearance in England, Tammy Abraham justified her international recall with a goal and a lively performance.
The competition to be Harry Kane’s understudy is wide open, with the former Chelsea striker battling with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins for the role.
The 24-year-old is on the rise again, having scored four times in a promising start to life for Rome this season, although he has underperformed slightly by expected goal data.
Abraham is the guy who needs a couple of chances and could have been more clinical in Andorra, especially with a head, but the energy, bonding play, and height he offers make him one of the options. Southgate’s most compelling center-forward.
Grealish in goal – and Southgate expects more
Jack Grealish closed a satisfying night for him and England with a goal that was more of a park kick than a World Cup qualifier – in the best possible way.
The £ 100million man has scored just double digits in one of his nine seasons and Southgate has said he expects more netbusters from the serial wizard.
“I think he’s more than capable of scoring goals,” he said. “A lot of times it’s about making sure he’s in the right positions. It has the quality and the goals will come.
England suddenly have goalkeeper options
Grealish’s goal owed much to the quick wit of goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who found his gallop through space with a laser-guided arm throw.
Johnstone, who appears to be Southgate’s preferred replacement for Jordan Pickford, was another to improve his stock.
With Aaron Ramsdale, who got off to a good start at Arsenal, on the bench, England suddenly have an abundance of goalkeepers on the prowl for a pass.