Gary Neville stunned by Southgate decision to leave two ‘world-class’ England stars out – ‘France would have played them’

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville

Pundit Gary Neville was shocked by Gareth Southgate refusing to play Phil Foden or Trent Alexander-Arnold for England against the USA, even from the bench.

Southgate named an unchanged starting eleven from the game against Iran, which is understandable given the 6-2 victory in England’s World Cup opener. However, the Three Lions struggled to break the USA down. And it was Gregg Berhalter’s side who actually had the better chances.

England were crying out for some changes in the second half. And Southgate provided in the 68th minute, replacing Raheem Sterling with Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham with Jordan Henderson. Marcus Rashford also replaced Bukayo Saka 10 minutes later.

These substitutes gave England more energy, but they still didn’t have any really good chances and were held to a 0-0 draw.

After the game, ITV Sport’s pundit panel of Neville, Roy Keane and Ian Wright admitted their surprise at Foden not coming on. With Man City, he often has to break solid defensive teams down and this draw may have been the perfect game for him.

Neville said (25/11, at 21:00): “I was disappointed not to see Foden. For me, that talent is huge, I’ve not seen anything like that.

“Gareth prefers Mount, Saka, Sterling at the moment. But for me, for Foden not to be amongst that starting eleven, or come off the bench, was interesting.”

Keane then gave his opinion. “We were surprised watching on,” the former Man Utd captain said. “Of course, Gareth is the manager, he knows the players better than anybody. But we were all watching the game fully expecting Foden to come on. And the subs that did come on didn’t really have an impact.

Roy Keane accuses England of being ‘terrible’

“England looked leggy, they looked short of ideas. Even set pieces you never thought they had a goal in their locker from that. A terrible performance.”

Wright added: “It was [crying out for him]. Simply because we know Man City have to deal with that low block. He’s someone who is adept at finding space and getting into those areas where they cut it back.

“But we have to give United States a lot of credit for the way they defended. I thought their midfield were very good. The only thing they lack is a real threat up front.”

Neville also told Southgate why he should have brought Alexander-Arnold on, calling the Liverpool right-back and Foden ‘world-class talents’ and suggesting other big nations like Spain and France would have played the pair.

“I’ve got huge respect for Gareth. But we’ve got a couple of talents there sat on the bench in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Foden,” Neville added (25/11, at 21:04). “In terms of opening up a game, Alexander-Arnold has got some of the best delivery I’ve ever seen from a full-back.

“Down that right-hand side in the second half, when Rashford came on he had Henderson there and Trippier. So he was blocked a little bit from getting the sort of combinations you’d want.

England must use ‘world-class talents’, says Gary Neville

“I think those two [Foden and Alexander-Arnold] not coming off the bench was a little bit disappointing in the sense that you’re going to try and win the game. They’re world-class talents.”

Neville was then told Southgate may have left Alexander-Arnold out due to his defensive weaknesses. The pundit replied: “He’s worried about him defensively. But I think if we’re not confident against USA of playing him when we need a goal – we could have had a very comfortable third game where we could’ve played the bench.

“We’ve not got that now which is fine. I think the other nations, Spain, Brazil, France, would have had Alexander-Arnold and France in the starting eleven.”

Those three pundits were not the only ones questioning Southgate’s selection and substitutions. Ross Barkley, who has won 33 caps for England, tweeted: “Get foden on, and watch how much the game changes!”

Former England striker Michael Owen tweeted: “Astonished that we’ve used 14 players so far yet our most talented player is still sat on the bench.”

Here is Southgate’s reaction to the draw, in which he tried to explain why Foden wasn’t used.