'Both were excellent post-lockdown' - England boss Southgate explains how Foden and Greenwood earned first call-ups

Phil Foden Mason Greenwood GFX
Both Manchester-based players are with their country's senior side for the first time after starring at youth levels for the Three Lions

England manager Gareth Southgate has said the form shown by Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood after the Premier League lockdown convinced him to hand the pair their first senior call-ups on Tuesday.

Manchester City's Foden and Manchester United forward Greenwood were both included on Southgate's squad for September’s Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark. The players have been involved at youth level for England and have been on the manager's radar for some time.

"If you are within football then you have known about these two young players for a long time," Southgate said. "You only have to speak with their clubs. We have known from our junior teams with England, the impact that they have had. Then the question is at what point do you give them the step up to play."

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Southgate said both players made their case in the Premier League's latter months, as Foden and Greenwood became regular contributors for their respective teams.

"Both of them were excellent in the period post-lockdown for their clubs," Southgate said. "Both played in big important matches at their clubs and had a big impact. They have the potential to be England internationals for a long time to come.

"As always that’s up to them, their mentality and the way they play but we have belief in them and we are really looking forward to working with them."

While Foden took some time to work his way up to becoming a regular under Pep Guardiola, Greenwood burst onto the scene last season and quickly formed part of United's attack at age 18.

Southgate admitted that he didn't see Greenwood becoming a senior England player so quickly, while saying he felt it was better in the past for Foden to stay with England's youth sides to secure regular minutes.

"We felt at times last year, it was better for him to get football with our Under-21s," Southgate said of Foden. "There were moments where he wasn’t getting regular game time and we felt that was good for his development. We knew he was a player who was likely to be involved with the England senior team and we feel like now is a good moment to do that.

"Similarly, with Mason, if you said to me three or four months ago, I would have said we know he is a high-quality player who is having a good season but maybe it is a bit early to put him up to the senior team, but the reality is that his performances and goalscoring has been so good that he has earned the right."