England urged to deploy Foden in new role with Liverpool man one of two issues Southgate must fix

Gareth Southgate has been given advice over Phil Foden's best position for England

Gareth Southgate has been given advice over Phil Foden's best position for England

Gareth Southgate has been told to consider a slight change of formation to help bring out the best in Manchester City playmaker Phil Foden – with Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold one of two men who could pay the price in reshuffle and with the team who can win Euro 2024 for the Three Lions named.

England began their campaign to win the European Championships – the 17th time the tournament has been staged – on Sunday as they recorded a 1-0 win over Serbia in Gelsenkirchen. And while Jude Bellingham’s flying header after just 13 minutes gave them a dream start, Dragan Stojkovic’s side eased their way more and more into the game and were the better side after the break.

However, they were unable to create too many meaningful chances with Jordan Pickford able to beat away their best effort; a dipping snap-shot from outside the box from Juventus livewire Dusan Vlahovic.

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Nonetheless, the way England allowed their opponents to wrestle back control in the game at the Veltins-Arena will have given Southgate plenty of food for thought.

And Rio Ferdinand felt the England coach was too slow to react to their opponents getting the upper hand, naming the two players who should have featured to help the Three Lions retain more of the ball.

With a game against Denmark next on England’s agenda – this time in Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park – Southgate will need to consider whether to change his side up for the game, or stick with the XI that started out last time.

Much of the attention was placed on the decision to start Alexander-Arnold alongside Declan Rice in a two-man central midfield, with the versatile Liverpool man seeing his effectiveness fade as the game wore on.

England news: Southgate told to consider new Phil Foden role

Analysing the display on Sunday, Robbie Savage feels England’s system failed to get the best out of the Premier League’s Player of the Year Foden and has urged the England boss to consider altering the Manchester City man’s position.

“It’s three points for England and one step closer to the knockout rounds,” the Planet Sport ambassador said. “In tournament football it’s important to get off to a good start and for the first 20 minutes they played with great intensity. Jude Bellingham’s goal was fantastic and he played well as the number 10.

“However, the second half was like watching paint dry. It was so boring, but they got the job done. I still think there are one or two decisions that Gareth Southgate has to make. The big questions are how to get the best out of Phil Foden, who to play in midfield and what formation allows Harry Kane to be at his best?

“At the end of the day they’re up and running with three points and I still think they’ll win their group. But as soon as they come up against a top side, I think they’ll get beat if they play that same line-up and formation.”

Despite critics coming out over Alexander-Arnold’s performance, Savage reckons Southgate will stick with the Reds man against the Danes, though does feel that if England are to win the tournament then a midfield trio – and a change of shape to 4-3-3 – could be the way to go.

“I think Trent Alexander-Arnold played well and I’d stick with him for now,” Savage added. “My England side before the tournament was a 4-3-3, with Declan Rice as the six and Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden as the two number eights. Then Harry Kane could drop in, which would allow Bellingham to run off him – that’s how I would set up.”

England urged to stick with Alexander-Arnold – but left-back is an issue

Explaining why he thinks England should continue with Alexander-Arnold in midfield for now, Savage added: “Trent is exceptional on the ball and at times he has got those defensive instincts, but it’s a new role for him.

“I would stick with him for now, but if they were to play the likes of Germany, Spain, Italy or France, what would happen?”

Meanwhile, former England goalkeeper David Seaman feels Foden’s effectiveness has been stunted by the lack of a natural left-back behind him.

With Luke Shaw still working on his fitness, England started with Newcastle right-back Kieran Trippier behind Foden on Sunday.

But the fact he’s not a natural on that side makes Foden‘s job that much harder.

Explaining the dilemma, Seaman feels the fact Bellingham also plays as a No 10 means the two of them often try and occupy the same spaces.

“Foden’s lack of influence has been a talking point after the game, and I think Phil is unfortunate that Bellingham goes into the areas that he normally occupies for Man City,” Seaman said.

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“There’s a bit of a crossover there but you can’t have both players in that No. 10 position, so Phil needs to adapt to where Gareth Southgate is asking him to play and start affecting the game. I’ve got no doubt that he will work it out because he’s a quality player.

“Jude drifted out of the game a little bit in the second half, and maybe that’s when Phil can decide to pop into the midfield to help out. Even as good a player as Phil Foden is, that sense of adapting his game and sorting out situations on the pitch is something he can add to his game.

“Phil should be getting himself involved a little bit more, but he can’t go and take the game by the scruff of the neck because he’s playing in a wider position and he’s got defensive responsibilities.

“There’s a right-footer at left-back in Kieran Trippier, so he needs some help and gets that from Phil. Jude has the license to roam, so Phil can’t do that because then the balance of the team would be all over the place.

“When Phil gets the ball, though, he can really influence the game. I wouldn’t leave him out of the team, because who would you put in that’s as good as Phil Foden? Nobody.”