Phil Foden was left out of England’s matchday squad to take on Czech Republic amid the looming threat of suspension.
The Manchester City playmaker was a bright spark in the opening two group games despite Gareth Southgate’s side failing to break down Scotland in their second game.
But he was a surprise omission from both the starting line-up and the bench for the final group game as England looked to wrap up the top spot.
Whilst there may well have been a tactical element to Foden’s absence after a lacklustre display against Scotland, the threat of suspension was also looming.
Foden was booked in England’s opening game against Croatia, meaning another yellow card would have seen him ruled out of the last-16 game.
With England already through, his yellow card will be wiped off after the group stages are completed.
Other teams have adopted a similar approach, with Wales leaving Kieffer Moore, Ben Davies and Chris Mepham out against Italy after already picking up yellow cards.
Gareth Southgate suggested that was a key reason for Foden’s absence before the game, telling ITV Sport: “He’s on a yellow, given that we look like we’re already missing 2 players [Mount & Chilwell] for the next round, I don’t want to take a risk on a third.
“It’s a shame for Phil, but I think it’s a sensible decision.”
Was Gareth Southgate right to leave Phil Foden out entirely? Comment below
Southgate’s decision also came after Wayne Rooney advised him to drop Foden after their display against Scotland.
England’s all-time record goalscorer told The Sunday Times : “I love Foden as a footballer but you have to realise that, for four years and more, he has been moulded into a City player.
“It is hard for him to turn up and just change how he has been playing since the age of 16. City play in the final third. They keep possession there. Foden is not a dribbler but a player who plays nice little passes and moves into good positions.”
Rooney explained how Guardiola’s decision to not let Foden leave on loan had had some negative effects.
He claimed Foden knows no other way of playing than the Spaniard’s ‘total football’ approach and that might not be the best fit for England.
He also added that he had not had the license to find gaps further up the field in England’s system despite thriving in City’s short-sharp passing style.
With Foden left out, Southgate turned to Jack Grealish to start with Bukayo Saka also coming into the side on the right wing to flank Harry Kane.
Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were both ruled out having been forced to self-isolate after close contact with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who since tested positive for COVID-19.