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Phil Foden’s odds to make England’s Euro 2020 squad slashed to 4/1 - Is he deserving of a call-up?

Foden

With Euro 2020 on the horizon, focus is beginning to turn on England and who manager Gareth Southgate is going to select in his final 23-man squad for the competition. 

While regulars such as Harry Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling are all nailed on for a spot on the plane, there are still plenty of question marks surrounding who the Three Lions boss will select to pad out the rest of his playing squad this summer.

One of the biggest debates is who will be England’s chosen creative link in midfield, should a more conservative 4-2-3-1 formation be adopted at the Euro’s. The battle between Mason Mount, Dele Alli, James Maddison and Jack Grealish has been talked about non-stop by the media all season long, with each of those aforementioned names bringing plenty to the party if selected. 

Indeed, there are a couple more, lesser-spoken about players, each of whom could potentially see themselves included into the squad should they endure a strong end to their respective campaigns. 

Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse could be viewed as one. The versatile midfielder has enjoyed a solid campaign with the Saints this time out, and is one of the main reasons that the south coast club have steered themselves clear of danger and into mid-table security during the new year.

While it seems unlikely that Ward-Prowse will be rewarded with an England call-up - just like he did last summer when Gareth Southgate included him into his preliminary Uefa Nations League squad - there is certainly a case to be built around his inclusion, especially given his unique ability from set-pieces. With so much competition for places in central midfield, though, it does at the minute look to be a bridge too far for the 25-year-old.

Another player currently being considered is Manchester City starlet Phil Foden. On the face of it, the 19-year-old’s inclusion into the England squad for such a major international tournament this summer seems absurd. 

After all, Foden is yet to win his first senior cap for the Three Lions and has only started two league games for the Sky Blues this term. Such is the quality-in-depth at the Etihad, Foden is frequently overlooked by manager Pep Guardiola but it must be noted, that has nothing to do with the player’s ability.

We were all reminded of this on Sunday, as the teenager was handed a surprise start for City against Aston Villa in the final of the Carabao Cup. Foden put in a stellar performance as the Cityzens brushed aside Dean Smith’s side at Wembley, with many now believing that he should be considered for international selection when England take on Italy and Denmark in pre-tournament friendly matches at the end of March.

While his opportunities at club level have been limited this season, every time Foden has been given a chance to prove his quality for City he has massively impressed. Sunday’s display against Villa has been lauded due to the fact it was played out beneath a microscope - millions were sat at home or down the pub watching the cup final on TV, with many presented with their first proper glance at what this talented young man can offer; it’s fair to say that they were all left impressed. 

However, for those who have been closely following Foden during the previous two-and-a-half years, his performance at the weekend would have come as little surprise. 

For long, the 19-year-old has been dubbed the “Stockport Iniesta” because of the similarities in his play to that of the Barcelona legend. It is so easy to forget that Foden is still yet to hit his 20s. 

The maturity in the way he plays the game is at times mind-boggling and can leave the common spectator in a state of complete awe - only few players have the ability to do that at the height of their careers, let alone when they are just starting out as a fringe player at a certain club.

The main issue is of course his lack of gametime at City. It is a well-worn argument that rears its head every time Foden has a good game, which coincidentally seems to be every time he is gifted with a rare start by Pep Guardiola. 

Whether or not he should be loaned out to a fellow Premier League club remains up for debate; there are pros and cons to be had for that particular argument, but most City fans you speak to would not want to see that happen. They feel that the thing which will benefit Foden’s career the most is him playing regularly for Manchester City and it is difficult to disagree.

With David Silva retiring at the end of the season, there is a feeling that Foden is the Spaniards’ ready-made replacement in the heart of City’s midfield, and that he will finally be given his chance to shine in the Premier League next term. 

Foden's style of play is hugely reminiscent of the 34-year-old’s, who joined City from Valencia in 2010 and has since gone to become a legend at the Etihad Stadium. 

Silva may be viewed as irreplaceable by the Cityzens faithful - and rightly so after all he has achieved in the north west of England - but if one player is capable of receiving the baton and carrying it forward for another 10-15 years, it is Foden. 

More minutes at club level will bring with it more chances for the young starlet to stake a claim for international selection next season; it is now not a case of if Foden makes it into the senior Three Lions set-up, but when. 

This summer’s European Championships may come too soon for Foden and England, but if he continues to grasp his opportunities with both hands when they are presented to him, we will no doubt see him blossom into one of England’s most effective creative midfielders.

Exciting times are forthcoming. 

Odds for Foden to make England’s Euro 2020 squad: 

4/1 with William Hill

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