Phil Foden’s upward trajectory has been one of the most captivating sub-plots for Manchester City supporters to follow over the course of the past eighteen months, and he enjoyed yet another landmark moment in his career on Thursday night as he made his debut for the England U21 side.
Stockport’s answer to Andres Iniesta took a huge step forward in his fledgling career recently by opening his account for Man City with a brilliant strike away at Oxford United, but first-team opportunities in the Premier League continue to elude him.
A lack of senior football did not prevent Aidy Boothroyd from selecting him for international duty recently as Foden was included in the England U21 squad to face Andorra and Scotland.
And Boothroyd threw the 18-year-old straight into the action by starting him against Andorra in central midfield last night alongside Lewis Cook and Tom Davies.
Foden was typically composed in possession, a menace when dribbling directly at his opposite number and a huge threat from wide positions.
In the aftermath of proceedings, Boothroyd joined Owen Hargeaves and Michael Owen to discuss a handful of key performances on BT Sport and Foden came in for some special praise.
Boothroyd said: “His spacial awareness is as good as anybody I’ve ever seen at this age. Really clever.”
But the esteemed praise didn’t stop there as Owen Hargreaves also weighed in with a huge comparison:
“He’s impossible to mark in those areas. He’s got a spacial awareness that reminds me of Paul Scholes. He just knows exactly when and where.
“As good as he is, he doesn’t force the issue, he’s really generous in terms of his teammates and there’s no denying he’s a special player.”
Whilst some City supporters may feel that drawing parallels between the finest young academy talent in living memory and a legend of their local-rival is something of a backhanded compliment, Hargreaves’ comments should certainly be taken in the best possible way.
After all, Scholes is one of the most iconic and successful central midfield players of his generation, and Hargreaves’ comparison speaks volumes about how highly he is regarded in the British media.
After being mentioned in the same bracket as the likes of both Iniesta and Scholes in the past few weeks the media are certainly in danger of over-hyping Foden, but the exceptional nature of his performances suggest that it will take much more than a couple of sensationalist comments to disrupt the 18-year-old’s development.
Praise continues to be lavished on Foden as he edges closer to breaking into the first-team at Man City, so it’s surely only a matter of time now before he finally makes his first Premier League start .
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