Copy of 2022-11-21T151538Z_88344804_UP1EIBL16E0WK_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-WORLDCUP-ENG-IRN-REPORT-1669628843233
England should start with both Jack Grealish and Phil Foden for their Group B clash against Wales if they are to make the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: If I was England coach Gareth Southgate, I would make some major changes to the team for the crucial match against Wales.

A spot in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is at stake and England cannot produce another tepid display as they did against the USA.

The Three Lions were fortunate to take a point from the goalless draw. They looked leggy, slow and devoid of any creativity. They made few chances and took few risks. Big changes are needed to the starting 11 for the Group B clash at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Best player

First and foremost, Phil Foden must start the match. He is our best player by a country mile. He would have made the difference against the USA as he has the ability to float between the lines. Yet Southgate stubbornly refused to send him on from the bench. I could not understand why and believe the coach cost us two points.

The Manchester City midfielder is our most technically gifted player. He is a regular for Pep Guardiola. If arguably the greatest coach in the world can see how vital a player Foden is, then why can’t the England manager? Southgate kept him on the bench and as a result England laboured to a draw. Top coaches know when to make match-winning substitutions. Everyone could see the game was crying out for the 22-year-old to unlock the USA defence. Instead he threw on Jordan Henderson th shore up the midfield. Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford made late cameos but had the coach been brave and given Foden 20 minutes, it could have changed the game.

This isn’t just a lot of hot air. Remember, Foden moved ahead of Raheem Sterling at club level. Guardiola sold Sterling to Chelsea because he had Foden on the left. The onus has to be on Southgate now to try something different.

Guardiola uses him as a wide attacker but has said he is good enough to play in all five positions up front - as a winger on both sides, a striker through the middle and in the pockets like an attacking midfielder. Perhaps Southgate missed this assessment from the world’s top manager. Or maybe he chose to ignore it. Either way, the situation now calls for Foden to start the match in a 4 3 3 formation so that we take the game to Wales. He presses well and has a great engine. I would play him up front with Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka. Sterling was ineffective against the USA. He is a senior player but looks out of form and should sit this one out.

Good partnership

Behind them in midfield I’d have Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Declan Rice. The back four has been good and selects itself again so that means Luke Shaw and Kieron Trippier should again be left and right backs. Harry Maguire and Jone Stones have forged a good partnership at centre back so I would leave them as is while Jordan Pickford will again be in goal.

England know that any result other than a defeat will take them through to the round of 16. A draw would be enough but that would send out the wrong signal to the other teams in the tournament. We don’t want to struggle through to the knockouts. We need a big win with a dazzling display to show everyone we mean business.