Manchester: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expects Phil Foden to play a key role in the side over the next decade and says the 18-year-old will be more involved in the first team next season.
The Stockport-born teenager, who has been with the club since the age of eight, made his first Premier League start in City’s 2-0 win over Cardiff City on Wednesday.
“I’m happy with the way he plays. He could have scored two goals, he’s exceptional,” Guardiola said.
Several highly rated teenagers, frustrated at limited involvement, have moved on in search of regular first-team football but Foden signed a new City contract until 2024 in December and Guardiola said the midfielder would get his chance.
“It’s not easy for him with (David) Silva, Bernardo (Silva), (Ilkay) Gundogan, (Kevin) De Bruyne, but he wants to be here, he’s delighted to be here,” he added.
“I assure you next year he will play more minutes. That’s the process. For the next decade he will be important.”
If City win all their six games they will retain the title and after winning their last eight league games in a row and 21 of their last 22 in all competitions, they certainly are capable of finishing the season in such style.
“We have the feeling if we drop points we will not be champions,” said Guardiola.
“With the chances we created, we should have scored more, that’s the regret but the other side it was really good,” added the Spaniard.
City dominated from the outset, taking the lead in the sixth minute when Kevin De Bruyne ran on to a clever pass from Aymeric Laporte and blasted past Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge from a tight angle.
The Belgian midfielder conceded after the game that he had intended to cross the ball but Etheridge will be disappointed that he had left his near post open.
City strutted and moved the ball with their customary ease but it was not until a minute before the break that Leroy Sane made it 2-0 with a sweet left-foot drive after a clever chest pass from Gabriel Jesus.
Somehow though City were unable to add to their tally after the break with Etheridge making a series of fine saves as City peppered the Cardiff goal.
He saved a Laporte header from a Foden cross in the 66th minute.
In the following five minutes the Philippine international keeper parried and pushed over the bar a fierce Riyad Mahrez drive, was at full stretch to keep out a Sane shot, and then dealt expertly with a Foden effort — the 18-year-old having also hit the post.
Cardiff had barely troubled the City defence but they came close to pulling a goal back on the break, in the 74th minute when Kyle Walker slipped but Oumar Niasse was unable to finish off the counter, Ederson racing out to deny him.
The result leaves 18th placed Cardiff five points away from the safety zone on 28 points. Burnley, Southampton and Brighton are all on 33 points, Huddersfield Town and Fulham have already been relegated.
“We are trying to keep it interesting and we are far outweighing our expectations, we are still in with a shout,” said Cardiff manager Neil Warnock.
“You can afford the odd draw but I think we have to win three at least, add a draw and who knows?”