Gareth Southgate given Mason Mount England instruction for USA amid Phil Foden World Cup dilemma


Former England international Glen Johnson has told Gareth Southgate to persevere with Mason Mount in midfield at the World Cup. Phil Foden was dropped to the bench as the Chelsea star impressed alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in the Three Lions’ tournament opener against 6-2.

Mount performed well before he was eventually replaced by the Manchester City playmaker with 20 minutes to spare. Foden was quickly in the thick of the action, combining well with Marcus Rashford on a number of occasions.

The pair’s impressive displays guided England to the top of their group. The Three Lions can now all but seal a place in the round of 16 with a win against the United States on Friday, November 24, and Southgate has been instructed to play Foden in a more advanced role in order to keep Mount in the side.

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Speaking to Genting Casino, Johnson detailed the wealth of attacking options that England have but noted the importance of Mount’s role as an ‘all-rounder’. The former Chelsea defender said: “I like both Foden and Mount, it’s a tough one. Who starts depends on who plays in the front three.

“Obviously, Foden can play up there, but you don’t want too many of those flair players like Grealish, Foden, and Saka at the same time. It’s about who plays around them. I quite like Mount as an all-round midfielder, but I’d prefer Foden a bit further up.”

Writing for The Times, Brighton midfielder Adam Lallana agreed with Johnson, shining a light on Mount’s ‘tactical understanding’. The 34-year-old insisted that, in an ideal world, the Chelsea star and Foden feature in the starting-eleven together.

“It shows real tactical understanding,” Lallana said on Mount’s performance against Iran. “That is why he is a manager’s dream. The glamorous selection by England would have been to play Phil Foden as a No 10 alongside Bukayo Saka and [Raheem] Sterling, but picking Mount was another of the calls Gareth Southgate got exactly right.

“He implements on the pitch what Southgate wants from his team, and he will be doing that at Chelsea too. When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015, I tried to do that, just as I am now under Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton. That can earn you the tag of teacher’s pet, but it is a compliment.”

While Mount didn’t chip in with a goal or assist in the World Cup opener, he still played his role in the team well. Lallana addressed the growing obsession with face-value statistics and said the Cobham graduate would ‘improve any team in the world’ regardless.

“Sometimes I will hear comments around Mount such as, ‘What does he do?'” Lallana added. “Perhaps that is based on judging players solely by goals and assists. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, but that is complete rubbish in my book. I think he would improve any team in the world.”


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