England manager Gareth Southgate encourages Phil Foden after receiving a “surprise” World Cup snub.

For England’s opening World Cup game against Iran, Phil Foden was benched.

For those who were unable to participate in England’s opening World Cup game against Iran on Monday, Gareth Southgate has provided encouragement and optimism. Micah Richards, a former Premier League defender, called Phil Foden’s placement on the bench a “surprise” because many people would have anticipated him to start.

In the days leading up to kickoff on Monday, Southgate faced a difficult decision due to England’s abundance of attacking skill. For Arsenal and Manchester City, respectively, Bukayo Saka and Foden have both been in outstanding form, and Raheem Sterling has previously been a standout performance for the Three Lions.

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However, against Iran, three had to be reduced to two, and Foden was the one who had to make way. Saka and Sterling started on the right and left, respectively. Prior to kickoff, former City full-back Richards referred to the decision to leave out Foden as “surprising.”

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When a back-three has been employed more frequently over the past several weeks, Southgate’s decision to go to a back-four for England’s opening match in Qatar also sparked questions.

Southgate responded, “A little bit, because you’re always looking at the opponent,” when asked if the tactical change was related to how Iran was likely to set up. We believe that this is a solid team and a solid place to start.

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The Manchester City player Phil Foden was possibly the most shocking absence from the starting lineup, but Southgate offered encouragement to those left on the bench by explaining: “This tournament may depend on our ability to bring depth to the table. It’s crucial that we get off to a strong start.”

Many in-form club stars have been forced to wait for their time because Southgate has a tendency to place his trust in players who have previously performed well for the Three Lions. One of the most striking examples is the selection of Harry Maguire as the starting quarterback against Iran. Maguire was previously shunned by Manchester United.

The captain’s armband controversy dominated the lead-up to Monday’s game, with FIFA threatening to give Harry Kane an instant yellow card if he wore the OneLove message to support LGBTQ+ rights. Prior to the game, Southgate was questioned about the controversy but stated that he had only been thinking about sports-related issues.

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He told the BBC that “discussions have been going on without me while we’ve been getting ready for the game.” “We are donning the FIFA armband, which was chosen overnight by federations. We’re in the middle of that, but, to be honest, we’re also trying to concentrate on the game.”

Prior to England’s match against the Netherlands on Monday, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, and Wales also reneged on their positions in a single statement.