Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood capable of senior step up, says Southgate

Tuesday 25 Aug 2020
Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden are two of the new faces in the squad, with Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips joining them
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Gareth Southgate believes Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood have hugely exciting England futures ahead of them, after handing the pair their first senior call-ups.

20-year-old Foden and 18-year-old Greenwood were both named in Southgate’s first squad of the year, with the England boss calling up 24 players for the Nations League matches against Iceland and Denmark next month.

Both Foden and Greenwood, who featured for Aidy Boothroyd’s under-21 squad during the last international window back in November 2019, have been rewarded for their excellent form since the Premier League restarted back in June, with Southgate believing the time was right to welcome them to the senior fold.

“They’ve been involved with England’s development teams, so they are used to coming here – they are used to being part of an England team,” Southgate told TheFA.com. "This is a step up for them, but they are both more than capable.

"You’re always questioning with those young players what is the right time to move them up. We felt now is a good time.

"We’re a year away from a European Championship, let’s see if they can start to break into that team and into that squad. It gives us great competition for places, they are realistic challengers."

While the England boss is looking forward to working with the pair, he insisted it was now down to them to grasp the opportunity as the Three Lions look to build towards next summer’s EURO 2020.

"They’ve shown playing in big matches at big clubs that they are talented boys, they are both hugely exciting players I think. I think they’ll be a big part of England’s future,” he added.

“That is up to them, though. We give them the opportunity, then it’s up to them to go and take it forward. But there’s no reason why they can’t be involved with England for a long time to come.”

Kalvin Phillips was the third new face to be included in Southgate’s squad, which will report to St. George’s Park next week to begin preparations for the away matches against Iceland and Denmark.

And Southgate revealed his pleasure at being able to welcome Phillips to the Three Lions fold for the first time.

“I spoke to him this morning, which was a nice reminder of what it means for somebody to be in their first England squad,” Southgate added. "It’s a proud moment for him, his family and his club.

“He’s a player that we’ve watched a lot in the last 12 months in particular, with Leeds. They’ve had an outstanding way of playing, and the position he plays is a position where we need competition for places.

“The way that he plays the role and the way he’s been coached in the role is clear to see."

By Tom Biggs