Pep Guardiola insisted that Phil Foden can play anywhere amid increased scrutiny over the Manchester City star’s skillset.
Gareth Southgate claimed this week that Foden cannot operate in central areas for England given City opt against utilising him there.
The 23-year-old then appeared in the middle after starting from the right during the midweek friendly win against Scotland – a role Guardiola has deployed him in from the end of last season.
‘I have a great relationship with Gareth,’ Guardiola said. ‘It looks like I could disagree with him but I agree with him in that when you play outside it is different. But he knows that I know that Phil can play in all roles.
Pep Guardiola has insisted Phil Foden has the quality to play both centrally and out wide
Foden played out wide and scored in England’s recent 3-1 win in a friendly over Scotland
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‘As Gareth has said, in the pockets there are other responsibilities and you have to be so smart without the ball to read every minute. But Phil can play in all five positions up front.
‘I saw the friendly where he started on the right and moved inside. At the end, it’s not a big issue. When you play high up the pitch, the defensive responsibility is a little bit less. Phil will grow up because if he wants to be one of the best he has the mentality to improve.’
The City boss – who is without Mateo Kovacic, Jack Grealish and John Stones for Saturday’s trip to West Ham – backed Kyle Walker to still have years at the top.
Walker, 33, signed a new two-year extension this week after deciding against moving to Bayern Munich over the summer.
Guardiola revealed that members of the squad pleaded with him not to allow the full back to leave.
‘His mind is there and he has genetics like few players I have seen with all the conditions,’ the Catalan added.
‘As much as he enjoys his life, it will not be a problem. He’s a player where his teammates demanded he could not leave. At the end he decided to stay and he is really very important for us.
‘When Kyle didn’t play sometimes, it was for tactical reasons rather than bad behaviour. He was an important figure and he talked a lot.
‘He made me realise how important he is and when I spoke with his teammates they told me Kyle could not leave. He’s really important in the locker room and he has made a step forward with specific qualities that you cannot find all around the world. He can control the best wingers on the planet.’
Pep Guardiola recently returned to Manchester City after missing a few games due to surgery
Guardiola also praised the attitude of right back Kyle Walker after he signed a new contract