Phil Foden leaps to Gareth Southgate’s defence as England plot Germany Euro 2020 downfall

Euro 2020: England's route to potential glory

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Phil Foden has blamed England’s attacking struggles at the Euros on a lack of cohesion rather than tactical conservatism. Gareth Southgate has been criticised for his safety-first approach after just two goals from his team in three games but the Manchester City star says it is output rather than outlook which is at fault.

England chose to rest players involved in the Champions League and Europa League finals for a week ahead of the tournament which left them short on time to pull the attacking side of their game together.

“I feel like at my club you play with your team-mates every day in training. You come here and you’re playing with new players. You’ve got to try and connect straight away,” said Foden.

“I feel like we’re such a young group and we’re still learning to play together – but we’re still doing well.

“I’m hoping, come the Germany game, we can just express ourselves. With the attackers we’ve got we can really hurt them, so hopefully we turn up. We’re as good as anyone on our day.”

Foden is hoping for a recall against Germany having been left out of the squad for the Czech Republic game, partly because he was on a yellow card, but also because of a quiet start to the tournament.

“To be honest, I expect a lot more from myself, but I’m not going to be too harsh. I didn’t really get involved in the games as much as I would have liked. Hopefully, I can get the opportunity to play again and show what I am about,” said Foden.

“I feel like I’ve still got so much more to show in this tournament. I’ve been scoring a lot of goals and I just want to continue that form into the national team. And I believe that, hopefully in the next game, I can start getting involved in the goals.”

Declan Rice meanwhile appears to have raised false hopes that England’s isolated stars Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell might be allowed to join the rest of the squad over the weekend.

The chat the pair had in the tunnel with Covid-positive Billy Gilmour after the 0-0 draw with Scotland last Friday had ruled them out of full training until the day of the Round of 16 clash with Germany on Tuesday.

However, both players have continued to test negative for the pandemic and Rice, Mount’s childhood best friend, hinted there was a hope in the camp that they may be able to join in again in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Crucially, that could have given them time to participate to some degree in the final preparatory training sessions.

“I spoke to Mase yesterday,” Rice said. “He tested negative again and hopefully he can be back with the group soon.

“Maybe we can have him out tomorrow or the next day, obviously with another negative test. So that would be a massive boost and having Chilwell back would be a positive for us as well.”

However, the FA said nothing had changed and the original isolation terms would remain in place – however frustrating it is for all concerned.

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The surprise Ed Sheeran concert on Wednesday night was staged deliberately below the windows of the pair, but Rice, who grew up playing with Mount on the London football scene, admits it has been difficult to make his best mate feel part of the group.

“We’re lost souls!” Rice joked. “A few of the lads have told me I look lost – a bit of banter – and, yeah, I am to be fair.

“It has been really tough for him because he has had to isolate with Chilli and had to isolate in a room here at St George’s now for a couple of days.

“I have been speaking to him on WhatsApp and FaceTimed him a few times and it is important the lads still check in and talk to them because they are still here even though they are in their own rooms and not doing much.

“I think he’s been on Netflix watching a few things. We’ve had a little chat on FaceTime here and there, but he’s been positive.

“He’s been keeping himself fit in the room as well I think by doing a bike and what not. They are still part of the squad and ready to have a massive impact on this tournament.

“He would be a lot worse isolating with me – I would do his nut in. At least Chilli is actually a calm person, so I think they will be good together.”

Much of the resentment stems from the fact both were considered ‘close contacts’ when Gilmour’s team-mates, for instance, were not.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “We reacted to it as well as we could have done. They’re on their own individual training programme. It’s been a frustration, for sure, but the team have dealt with it really well.

“I know they’re able to dial in to some team training sessions and meetings by zoom and we’ve even created their own bubble with a physio we’ve brought in.”

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