Gary Neville questioned Gareth Southgate’s decisions not to use ‘creative talents’ Phil Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold during England’s draw against USA.
Manchester City attacker Foden and Liverpool full-back Alexander-Arnold were left on the bench for England’s rather drab 0-0 Group B draw with the Americans.
The Three Lions struggled to create in the scoreless draw, perhaps focused on not losing the game and retaining top spot in the group, with qualification now secured if they avoid losing to Wales by four goals.
But former England star and one-time assistant Neville was surprised to see Southgate not make more use of an abundance of talent on the bench.
Speaking at half time, the Manchester United legend said: “For Phil Foden not to be playing in England’s starting XI is a real shame.
“He is a massive talent, I think he’s our best player, our best talent by a mile in this country and he should be playing in that team.”
And with England completing the 90 minutes with just three shots on target, his views didn’t change.
Neville added: “I was disappointed not to see Foden, for me that talent is huge, I’ve not seen anything like that.
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“I know we’ve got [Jude] Bellingham, we’ve got [Jack] Grealish, we’ve got others, Gareth prefers [Mason] Mount, he prefers [Raheem] Sterling, he prefers [Bukayo] Saka at the moment, but for Foden to not be amongst that in the starting XI and not come off the bench is interesting.”
On the decision to not bring on Foden, Southgate told talkSPORT: “I didn’t think it was a game for Phil inside because a lot more defensive work was required against a very strong midfield you’re playing against.
“He doesn’t normally play there. We brought him on as a No.10 the other day but he doesn’t play there for his club.
“But he’s a super player, we love him. But we thought Marcus’ [Rashford] speed and Jack’s ability to be able to get hold of the ball and buy fouls and get us up the pitch… it came at a moment where we just needed control of the game.”
Neville also suggested that England would’ve benefited from Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold being on the pitch.
He said: “We’ve got a couple of talents there sat on the bench in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Foden, in terms of opening up a game Alexander-Arnold has some of the best deliveries you’ll ever see from a full-back.
“On that right hand side in the second half when [Marcus] Rashford came on he had [Jordan] Henderson there, he had [Kieran] Trippier, so he was blocked a bit from getting the sort of delivery and combinations you’d want.
“I think those two not coming off the bench was disappointing in the sense that if you’re trying to win the game, they’re world class talents.
“He’s worried about [Alexander-Arnold] defensively but if he’s not confident against the USA of playing him when we need a goal… We could have had a very comfortable third game where we could have played the bench.
“I think other nations, Spain, Brazil, France, probably would have Alexander-Arnold and Foden on the pitch. I understand it a bit as I’ve seen Trent defend but when you see a game like that where we lack creativity, those two players, should they be in there?”