Pep Guardiola has hailed Phil Foden’s mature response to the public fall-out that followed his high-profile England disciplinary breach last month.
The Manchester City midfielder was sent home from the England camp in Iceland, along with Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood, after the pair were found to have broken Covid-19 protocols.
The punishment has continued, with both players omitted from England manager Gareth Southgate’s latest squad for this month’s triple-header against Wales, Belgium and Denmark.
Yet since the incident Foden, 20, has started City’s first two Premier League games of the new season, as well as a Carabao Cup tie against Bournemouth. With two goals in those three appearances, Guardiola has been pleased with his attitude and performances.
The City manager said: “I think everyone knows the reason why, but Phil has worked incredibly hard every day. His performance is high and has been good.
“When Gareth thinks it’s the moment to come back, he’ll come back. He is still playing as well as possible to be ready.
“I think he has shown incredible maturity because, after what happened, he played the first game against Wolves (when) it was not easy and (in) the second game against Bournemouth he led the team.
“The third was difficult for everyone – Leicester played so well in the defensive area – and he was a bit tired.
“But I think his approach in every training session and match has been right.”
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Stockport-born Foden has had to deal with high expectations since graduating from City’s academy. He had long been been earmarked as the natural successor to David Silva in the City side and the current season will be a big one for him as the first since the influential Spaniard’s departure.
Yet Foden has taken much of the praise he has received in his early career in his stride and Guardiola feels his natural level-headedness is serving him well now.
“He was from the beginning so mature,” Guardiola said. “He’s handled the good and bad things and put aside the good and bad moments, and just thinks about the next thing.
“Phil is good – he’s in good terms.”
City bolstered their defence this week with the signing of Portugal international Ruben Dias from Benfica. The 23-year-old is the second centre-back acquired in the current transfer window after the arrival of Nathan Ake in the summer.
That could clear the way for 19-year-old Eric Garcia to leave. The Spaniard is in the final year of his contract and has indicated a desire to move, with his former club Barcelona reportedly interested.
Guardiola, whose side travel to Leeds on Saturday, said: “Today he’s our player and on Monday I think the transfer window finishes. I don’t know what will happen.
“I know he wants to leave and that Barcelona want him but there is no deal between the clubs right now. How it’s going to finish I don’t know.”