Pep Guardiola Backs Phil Foden’s Manchester City Role After Gareth Southgate Claim

Pep Guardiola insists Phil Foden can play in a number of attacking positions for Manchester City after England boss Gareth Southgate claimed the forward was not able to take a central role for his country. Southgate said people should “speak to Pep” earlier this week after being asked why he seemed reluctant to use Foden in central areas of his attack. Southgate’s inference was that, as Foden tends to play largely on the flanks at City, it was difficult for him to deploy the 23-year-old centrally in international games.

Foden was below his best at times last season despite City’s historic march to Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory.

Quizzed about Foden’s role for his team ahead of the treble winners’ trip to West Ham this weekend, City manager Guardiola expressed support for his player.

“I have an incredible relationship with Gareth. A comment from me? It looks like I disagree with him and I completely agree with him,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“When you play outside it is a completely different role but he knows, I know, that Phil can play in all positions up front – in the middle, outside right, left, in the pockets.

“But, as Gareth has said, in the pockets you have another responsibility, especially without the ball. Sometimes you don’t have to be so smart to read what happens every moment.

“But the important thing is Phil can play in the five positions up front without a problem and this is a big, big advantage for him.

“I saw the friendly game against Scotland. He started playing in the right, but moved and was most of the time inside. So the players move right, left, inside, outside. In the end it’s not a big issue.”

The West Ham game will see Guardiola back at the helm after missing two matches whilst recovering from his back operation in Spain.

In his absence, table-toppers City maintained their 100 per cent to their title defence as assistant Juanma Lillo oversaw victories over Sheffield United and Fulham.

“I’m getting better, three weeks after surgery. The doctor made a good job and, step by step, I think every week will be better,” Guardiola said.

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