Wayne Rooney thinks Gareth Southgate should make three changes to his side for their crucial World Cup clash against Wales on Tuesday.
The Three Lions will go through to the knockout stages of the World Cup if they avoid a heavy defeat to Wales after taking four points from their opening two fixtures against Iran and the USA.
Mason Mount had a really good game in their 6-2 victory over Iran but he was less effective versus the United States, who frustrated England on Friday night in a 0-0 draw.
There has been lots of calls from fans and pundits to start Manchester City Phil Foden over the Chelsea midfielder and Rooney – who hit the headlines this week because of his penis – would also like to see the 22-year-old in the team.
Rooney told The Times: “England’s performance was not great on Friday and there is no getting away from the fact that they will need to play a lot better to have a chance of winning this World Cup.
“Gareth Southgate needs to make changes for Tuesday’s game with Wales and given that it would almost take a miracle not to qualify, it’s the perfect opportunity for him to give minutes to players who have not been used much so far.
“Top of the list is Phil Foden. I found it very strange that Foden did not come on as a substitute against the USA. He would be a key part of my starting XI if I were the England boss. Technically, he is the best footballer England have.
“I think if you have a talent like Foden, you simply have to play him. He is now a different player from the one we saw at Euro 2020, when he struggled to make an impact.
“He is more mature and came into this tournament on the back of a long period of brilliant performances for Manchester City. He has the form to go with the ability.
“If I were him, I would be very frustrated that I didn’t get on the pitch at any stage of Friday’s game.
“My starting XI would have Foden on the left and Bukayo Saka competing with Raheem Sterling for a place on the right.
“I would also bring in another holding midfielder to play alongside Declan Rice, releasing Jude Bellingham to play as a No 10.”
Rooney added: “For the Wales game, I would also take out Mason Mount and bring in Kalvin Phillips if he is fit, and otherwise Jordan Henderson.
“I know Mount did very well against Iran and that he gives you a lot in terms of work rate and energy, but sometimes you need to just let your flair players and your better footballers go and influence games.
“That is why, if I were the England manager, I would make sure to get Foden on the pitch. Another of Foden’s strengths is his flexibility. If you need to change a game without making a substitution you can do that with Foden, because you can bring him inside if you need to, or you can play him out wide.
“The other big change I would make for the Wales match would be to rest Harry Kane. Against the USA, he looked like he may have been suffering the effects of a heavy knock he took in the Iran game.
“It was from a tackle in the second half and in that match I felt that Gareth should have considered taking him off at half-time. England were leading 3-0, the game was already won and Harry is our most important player.
“When there are opportunities to protect him and help him stay fit, I believe Gareth should take them — and that is why I would keep Harry on the bench against Wales.”
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