Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Roy Keane have expressed their surprise Manchester City star Phil Foden played no part in England’s goalless draw against World Cup Group B rivals United States.
Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate opted to retain faith with the same side that had cantered to a 6-2 win against Iran on Monday afternoon to put themselves in control of the group. Their chances of progressing were further enhanced when Wales fell to a defeat against Iran earlier on Friday, meaning an England win against the States would send them into the knockout stages.
However, the Three Lions were second best for large parts of a surprisingly low-key affair and struggled to match the energy and intensity that had allowed them to get their tournament underway in fine style four days earlier. There was further surprise when Southgate opted against introducing Foden in a bid to unlock a well-organised States defence, preferring to give Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford an opportunity.
A goalless draw does mean England remain in control of the group and are strong favourites to progress into the knockout stages - but both Neville and Keane were surprised to see Southgate opt against bringing on Foden.
Former England full-back Neville told ITV Sport: “Sometimes our midfield didn’t click at times, we looked tired, I didn’t think we connected in combinations in midfield. I thought their midfield were far better. I was disappointed not to see Foden. I know I mentioned him at half-time, but for me, that talent is huge. I’ve not seen anything like that. I know we’ve got Bellingham, we’ve got Grealish, we’ve got others.
“Gareth prefers Mount, he prefers Saka, he prefers Sterling at the moment, but for me, for Foden not to be involved in that or come off the bench was interesting.”
Keane agreed with his former Red Devils team-mate and went a step further by describing England’s display as ‘a terrible performance’.
He said: “We were surprised watching it. Gareth will have his reasons, he’s the manager, he knows the players better than anyone. But we are all stood watching the game saying Foden, fully expecting Foden to come on. The options and the subs that did come on didn’t really have an impact. I know they did the other day but England looked leggy, they looked one-paced, short of ideas, even set-pieces, you never felt they had a goal in their locker from that. Really, it was a terrible performance.”
England round off their group stage campaign with a game against Wales on Tuesday.