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Set Foden free! How England should line up in World Cup clash with Wales

1:03 PM GMT 28/11/2022
Phil Foden England bench HIC 16:9
Gareth Southgate named an unchanged team in England's first two group games but is it time to make some changes?

It’s time for Gareth Southgate to unleash Phil Foden on this World Cup.

England were crying out for the Manchester City star as they struggled to an uninspiring stalemate against the United States on Friday night.

But Gareth Southgate decided to keep him on the bench, much to the frustration of the Three Lions supporters in the stands, and those watching back home.

Southgate has since insisted that he "loves" Foden as a player and has given assurances that he will be handed opportunities to make his mark in Qatar.

Well, he needs to be given that opportunity against Wales on Tuesday night.

Barring a horror result, England have already secured passage through the knockout stages, so Southgate can try a few new things against Robert Page’s side.

And Foden’s quality and creativity could make a major difference in the central areas and revitalise an attack which looked worryingly toothless against the US.

Southgate doesn’t need to make wholesale changes to his team just because of one poor result and he certainly doesn’t need to move away from the 4-3-3 system he has been using.

But a few new faces could certainly be beneficial and Foden has to be one of those.

  • Jordan Pickford England 2022

    Jordan Pickford

    This remains a no-brainer. Pickford has not had much to do so far during the early stages of the tournament, but when he has been called into action, he has performed well. He commanded his area impressively against the USA and made some important saves when he needed to.

  • Kyle Walker England 2022

    Kyle Walker

    This would be one of the changes I would make from the team that started against the USA. It’s not that Kieran Trippier was any worse than anyone else, but more a case of giving Walker some proper game time ahead of the knockout stages. I think we all expect Southgate to move to a back three at some point, especially when England come up against a top team, and when he does, Walker will be used on the right of that back three. So, he needs to get some minutes under his belt having been out for so long and this represents a good opportunity to give him game time.

  • John Stones England

    John Stones

    I don’t think the centre-backs need to change. We know that Southgate trusts them and both have started the tournament well. Stones plays a key role in getting England on the front foot with his ability to bring the ball out from the back and he will be important during a game when England are expected to have a lot of possession.

  • Harry Maguire

    Harry Maguire

    There is a slight injury concern over Maguire, who seemed to clutch his hamstring during the final minutes of Friday night’s game. But if he is fit, then he has to start against Wales. For all his issues this season, Maguire has started the tournament well and was England’s best player against the United States. And with Kieffer Moore expected to start for Wales, it’s clear that Robert Page’s side will look to get the ball forward quickly and utilise Moore’s excellent aerial ability. Maguire was dominant in the air against the US on Friday night and England will need him to be again to counter the threat of the giant Wales striker.

  • Luke Shaw

    Luke Shaw

    By starting Walker at right-back, you do have the option of moving Trippier over to the opposite flank. But I’d stick with Shaw for this one to give England a naturally left-footed option down that side. The Manchester United defender showed he can be an asset against Iran in the opening game, so there is no real need to make a change.

  • Declan Rice England 2022

    Declan Rice

    The West Ham captain struggled against the pace and intensity of the USA midfield on Friday night. But despite that, he remains one of the first names on the England team sheet. No one else in the squad can really offer what Rice can and one under-par performance shouldn’t mean your place in the team is necessarily under threat.

  • Jude Bellingham England

    Jude Bellingham

    Fingers have been pointed at Bellingham following his display against the United States, but that feels very harsh. It was only a few days before that the Borussia Dortmund star was being lauded for his magnificent showing against Iran. Leaving him out for a more experienced head such as Jordan Henderson would send out totally the wrong message. Bellingham has to start.

  • Phil Foden England 2022 World Cup

    Phil Foden

    The clamour for Foden to start is understandable. He should have been playing from the first minute against Iran. Southgate clearly loves Mason Mount and you can see why the Chelsea midfielder is such an attractive option for managers, because of the work rate he gives and the quality he has. But England need a bit more guile in their attack and Foden possesses the quality England will really need against a Wales side who will no doubt sit back and look to protect their box. He can break the lines with his ability to run with the ball and can also unlock a defence with his sensational passing ability. Some are suggesting he should come in and take one of the wide attacking spots, but for me he should be operating more centrally.

  • Bukayo Saka England World Cup 2022

    Bukayo Saka

    After the high of the Iran game, Saka suffered a real low against the United States. He just couldn’t get into the game at all and on the rare occasion he did see the ball, his touch was poor and his passing was off. There is an argument that Marcus Rashford could come in and give Saka a rest, but I feel that would be unfair on the Arsenal man. He has the ability to cause the Wales defence all sorts of problems. 

  • Harry Kane Inglaterra

    Harry Kane

    If Kane is fit, he starts. England still need to win this game so you can’t rest your captain and top goalscorer if he is available to play. 

  • Jack Grealish World Cup

    Jack Grealish

    I thought Grealish was impressive when he came on against the United States. He looked like he could make something happen, something Raheem Sterling was unable to do while he was on the pitch. While Kane has to start if he is available, I’m not sure the same has to be said of Sterling. This could be the game to give the City attacker a bit of breather and he could come on and make a big difference off the bench if needed.

  • England starting line-up Wales GFX

    England's starting XI

    So, here it is, the England XI that should line up against Wales. Three changes from the line-up that struggled against the United States, with Foden, Grealish and Walker coming in.