World Cup 2022 column: Glenn Hoddle on risking Kane, 'incredible' Bellingham and why 'cut above' Foden must start for England

Ahead of England's World Cup match against USA, BT Sport pundit and former Three Lions manager Glenn Hoddle talks Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden

By Callum Davis Published: 25 November 2022 - 3.22pm

Phil Foden can take England to the next level if he is given the chance to make his mark on the world stage as the Three Lions look to qualify for the knockout round.

That's the view of BT Sport pundit and former England boss Glenn Hoddle, who believes the Man City playmaker is a "cut above" Gareth Southgate's other midfield options.

Southgate's side kicked off their Qatar World Cup campaign in style with a 6-2 win over Iran to leave them top of Group B ahead of thier match with USA.

With England looking to take a giant step towards qualification for the last 16, Hoddle also gave btsport.com his take on a flawless opening-night performance, Harry Kane's fitness and a coming-of-age display from Jude Bellingham.

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You know better than anyone the pressure around a World Cup opener, how significant will a start like that be for morale?

"It was a wonderful start to the tournament. We mustn’t get carried away, but it will give Gareth and the team no end of confidence.

"It was a better result than people will give England credit for, because Iran are no pushovers, they’re 20th in the world rankings for a reason.

"If you’d have asked me at the start of the game I would have been happy with a 1-0 win, but we controlled the game from the very beginning and just tore them apart.

"It really was the perfect performance, but Gareth is smart enough and wise enough to know it won’t all be plain sailing.

"USA are going to pose a completely different threat, but I think England are equipped to deal with them."

What will Southgate have learned, if anything?

"For such a young side, they didn’t look overawed by the big stage and that will have pleased Gareth.

"The average age of the squad is only 24 but they look like a really mature team.

"He will have learnt he can rely on his bench, because the substitutes were sensational.

"Apart from potentially Brazil and France, we have one of the strongest squads in the competition."

Harry Kane
England captain Harry Kane has been passed fit to play in Friday's clash with USA

Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford both impressed coming off the bench, would you risk playing Harry Kane after his injury scare this week?

"Harry Kane has to play tonight. I’m a big believer in playing your best players.

"Why would you not play your star striker if you know another three points sends you through the next round?

"But you’re right, one of the huge positives from the first game was that we scored six goals without Kane getting on the scoresheet. It proves we’re not reliant on one man.

"England should be have the mindset of being aggressive, beating USA to qualify and take the pressure off the final game against Wales.

"Then you can rest Kane and give others a chance, but he has to play in the second game."

One player whose stock continues to rise is Jude Bellingham. As one of the most technically gifted players this country has ever produced, you’re more qualified than most to talk about him.

"He’s incredible. For a 19-year-old he has real maturity.

"He’s seems so experienced for his age. He’s played a lot of Champions League football, so he’s not a normal 19-year-old in that sense.

"But more than that, he’s got ability. He is the archetypal, modern-day midfielder.

"He’s got every attribute in the book: he can pick a pass and score goals but you also see him on the edge of his own penalty area, screening the back four and making important tackles.

"He’s ahead of any midfield player that we’ve had in this country at that age.

"He has to keep his feet on the ground, but he appears to have a good temperament which is important."

Jude Bellingham scored on his first appearance at a World Cup for England

You say it’s important to play your best players. As a huge fan of Phil Foden’s, does it frustrate you to see one of the world’s most talented footballers sitting on the bench?

"It is frustrating and it must be even more frustrating for him. I don’t care what system Gareth plays, Phil Foden enhances that team.

"I’ve got nothing against the other midfielders, they’re all good players, but Foden is a cut above, he can do things nobody else can do.

"He’s an amazing sub for Gareth to be able to bring on, but don’t be surprised if he forces his way into the starting XI.

"I would play Foden against USA. Whatever shape you're playing he elevates the team and takes them to another level.

"My main concern is at the back, where we did come under pressure against Iran. Luke Shaw was playing like a left-winger and Kieran Trippier was playing like a right winger.

"That could be a problem against the Americans who are dangerous down both flanks, with Timothy Weah always looking to get in behind.

"Our full-backs will have to have the discipline to defend as well as attack, which will be a real test for them."

Looking at the tournament as a whole, has anyone caught your eye so far?

"It was no surprise to me to see Argentina and Germany both suffer loses in their opening games.

"I’ve never been convinced by Argentina. I think they’re an average side with one special player in Lionel Messi who may no longer be at his best. I think we might see a few more shocks as the group stage progresses.

"I’ve seen nothing, from an England perspective, that frightens me. In fact, the rest of the world will have watched us and gone: “Wow, that was some performance!”

"If we can maintain that authority and maturity then we have nothing to fear in this tournament."