Football

Pep Guardiola: In-form Phil Foden a natural fit for England

Phil Foden should be an automatic pick for England at this year's delayed European Championship after his outstanding season, said Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

The midfielder scored his eighth goal of the season as City beat English Premier League strugglers Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time) - their seventh successive win in all competitions.

City climbed to third spot in the table, just four points behind leaders Manchester United and one point adrift of Liverpool with a game in hand.

Foden, who has become City's leading scorer, earned praise from Guardiola.

"In the last few days, Phil has played against (Chelsea's Cesar) Azpilicueta, one of the most incredible defenders in the Premier League, and was outstanding," he said.

"It was the same against (Manchester United). I am pretty sure he would be selected (for England) if it was me.

"(England manager) Gareth (Southgate), I don't know but I am sure he was really impressed by him, like all of us."

Making his fourth consecutive start, Foden broke the deadlock just before half-time with a sublime goal, dancing inside a couple of Brighton defenders before sliding a clinical right-footed finish inside the post.

"It ended up as the winning goal, so I'm delighted," he said. "I don't score too many with my right foot, so I enjoyed it.

"We want to keep this form and we want to keep pushing to try to win the league."

Foden was the standout in a City front three with Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva.

His clever movement was perfect for the playmaking vision of Kevin de Bruyne, who once again pulled City's strings.

When he was replaced late on by Raheem Sterling, Foden walked off having made another emphatic statement to Guardiola and England boss Southgate.

"Phil Foden is 20 years old, look at the starts. The amount of games, the assists, compared to the bigger stars in football," Guardiola said of his protege.

"He can play both sides, in the middle as a false No. 9. He is so, so clever in front of goal. That's why he deserves to play." - REUTERS

Football