MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Phil Foden’s lack of minutes for the English champions is “unfair” as the 19-year-old came off the bench to score in a 2-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb early yesterday.
Foden has been limited to just one start, in the League Cup against Preston, so far this season as the return of Kevin De Bruyne and signing of Rodrigo has seen the England under-21 international fall further down the pecking order.
But he made the most of barely a few minutes on the field against the Croatian champions after being introduced as a substitute in stoppage time to fire home after fellow sub Raheem Sterling had opened the scoring.
“I know he deserves to play. I want to give him minutes, every time he doesn’t play I am completely unfair to him, I’m sorry,” said Guardiola.
“But Kevin De Bruyne is there, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Rodri, (Ilkay) Gundogan. It’s what it is.
“I know the best way to grow up is play minutes and minutes, but he is so young.
“I don’t know how many players of that age played as many minutes in the recent past he played in these last seasons with us.
“He is going to be an incredible future player for us because we count on him and we trust a lot in him.”
Sterling even hopes Foden will get enough chances to shine to make a late run to be included in the England squad for next year’s European Championship.
“I am buzzing for Phil and I want him in the national team,” said Sterling. “If he keeps going he will be there.”
However, City’ local hero Foden is happy to play a patient game with such an array of midfield talent to compete with.
“You have to show the manager what you can do each day in training,” said Foden. “Every young kid wants to play but you have to keep patient.”
City enjoyed 71 per cent possession and had 19 attempts on goal, but had to wait until 24 minutes from time to make the breakthrough when Sterling rounded off an excellent team move.
The English champions have maximum points from their opening two games with back-to-back matches against bottom-of-the-group Atalanta to come.
“It was good. We didn’t concede one shot on target, with our huge possession we created enough chances to score earlier, but we were patient,” added Guardiola.