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John Barnes addresses Southgate’s Foden and Bellingham conundrum and labels Wharton as solution to ‘Rodri’ issue

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Bonuscodebets had the pleasure of sitting down with Liverpool and England legend John Barnes who discussed his thoughts on one of the big conundrums facing Gareth Southgate. England have struggled in an attacking sense in both their group stage games so far and have struggled to get the best out of Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham in tandem.

One thing that’s been very apparent to anyone watching this England side is the lack of width on the left hand side. Kieran Trippier who has deptused for the injured Luke Shaw. With Foden starting out on the left side it has left England incredibly narrow in their attacking patterns due to Foden’s preference for playing in the central pockets and Trippier’s tendency to cut inside on his right foot. Foden operating in the same areas as Bellingham has left England lopsided. Barnes claims Southgate may have sacrifices to make if England are going to see improvements in their performances. .

“I think that that that position in terms of being the playmaker and in terms of being the the man who everybody wants to go to, it’s going to be Bellingham. So of course Foden going into the central areas will then detract from Bellingham. There’s no point playing all of them. So I think that first of all you have to find the requirements of every position for the player.

“As you can see, the first game against Serbia, Foden became a bit more player because Jude was the one on the ball and doing what he does. If you’re going to play Jude and Phil then you need an Adam Wharton in there just to supplement what Jude Bellingham is going to be in there as the playmaker.”

Barnes points to his own career when looking at the struggles of Foden and claims it’s a playing style issue for Manchester City’s ace.

“You can’t just pick players and shoehorn them in the team because they’re playing well and they’re good players. People used to say to me that they want me to play for England the way I played for Liverpool. And I said, well, if England played like Liverpool I would and it’s the same with Phil Foden.

“The only way he’s going to play the way he does for Man City, for England is if England play like Man City, which they don’t. So I feel sorry for him because the system would suit him if the other players within the system were going to be like Manchester City’s but they’re not. So it’s going to be difficult for him in that respect.”

One of the solutions that has been touted to fit Bellingham and Foden into the same team is to have Foden in the ten role which has been occupied by Bellingham and in doing so you’d see Bellingham drop deeper either into a double six role with Rice or more of a roaming number eight role. However, it’s a solution that Barnes can’t quite see Southgate going for.

“If you’re going to partner Declan Rice with Jude Bellingham, you’d have to tell Jude to stay alongside Rice which then allows the Foden’s and the Saka’s and, you know, whoever plays as an attacking player to go and do what they do. And you sit there and get the ball and play it simply to them to do that but I don’t think he’s ever going to ask Jude Bellingham to do that.

“So therefore you have to play Kobbie Mainoo or Adam Wharton because you have Saka holding his position on the right but we had Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden running anywhere. That doesn’t suit the system.

Barnes is very keen to note the fact that at their respective clubs, Foden and Bellingham are given much more stringent tactics and systems to abide by which he hasn’t seen in the England team with the pair so far. It’s well known that Pep Guardiola runs a tight ship at City which has led to an abundance of league titles as well as European glory.

Within that set up at City is Rodri who holds the key to the City team and Barnes notes that Adam Wharton could be England’s very own Rodri in allowing Bellingham and Foden to flourish as someone who will sit in front of the back four and get the ball to England’s starlets.

“For Man City Phil Foden doesn’t just run and pick up the ball anywhere. He doesn’t go and get the ball off the back four and then he goes over to the right, then he goes over to the left. Neither does Jude Bellingham for Madrid. For England they’re just running around and not holding a position even in an attacking sense.

“Man City are very strict in their attacking sense. Phil Foden doesn’t run to get the ball off the right back, the left back in the midfield player, the centre back. That’s Rodri’s role and that’s why I would like to see Adam Wharton.

“Wharton is an important player for Crystal Palace. He’ll sit in front of the back four. And I think if you want to play with the creative players of Bellingham, Foden or Cole Palmer you really need a holding midfielder. He will sit there to play the ball forward to the attacking players.”

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