Pep Guardiola said Phil Foden was “something special” back in April, but he remains reluctant to pitch the teenage midfielder into his Manchester City side.
The 19-year-old made his Citizens’ debut in November 2017 in a Champions League game against Feyenoord, before his Premier League bow came as a substitute in a 4-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur a month later.
Foden has remained on the fringes of the team since and, while he made 26 outings last season, half of those were in cup competitions.
He made 13 league appearances, but only two of those were in a starting role, despite earning rave reviews from Guardiola when he did play.
Indeed, the Spanish tactician intimated that Foden would have a bigger part to play in 2019-20 when discussing his qualities towards the end of last season.
He said: “He has the level to be a Manchester City player and it is not easy to play in those teams, the big teams. “I see him every day in training sessions. He has something special.
I have seen many players as a player and as a manager and this guy has something difficult to find.”
However, Foden featured in the Community Shield and has played just 10 minutes of Premier League football in City’s opening four games of this season with a substitute appearance in the 5-0 win at West Ham.
It does not appear to have affected his ability when he does get an opportunity to showcase his skills as Foden chipped in with two impressive assists as England Under-21s won 3-2 against Turkey on Friday.
It was another message to Guardiola that he is ready to be given more responsibility in the City midfield engine room.
If Foden remains a bit-part player throughout this season, it is likely to be a matter of time before he develops itchy feet.
Cross-city rivals Manchester United are ready and willing to pitch their academy products into action with Scott McTominay, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford featuring this season.
Liverpool won the Champions League with two academy players in the team, while Chelsea are relying heavily on youth as Frank Lampard looks to cope with the Londoners’ transfer embargo.
Foden must be wondering what he has to do to be given a run of games at City, especially with the investment the club have ploughed into their academy.
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