Gary Neville believes Gareth Southgate is the perfect manager to handle the Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood situation after the England debutants saw their maiden senior call-ups curtailed in shame for breaching coronavirus regulations.
Within 48 hours of making their Three Lions debut against Iceland on Saturday, Foden and Greenwood were forced to leave the England camp after social media footage emerged of them having brought girls back to the team hotel in Reykjavik.
Players have been given strict guidelines to ensure Covid-19 safety – and the images – published by Icelandic outlet DV – appears to show Foden, 20, and Greenwood, 18, disregard those protocols on Sunday.
Gary Neville (left) thinks Gareth Southgate (right) will handle Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood well
Greenwood (left) and Foden were kicked off the England team for breaking quarantine rules
It is an unnecessary and unwanted distraction for Southgate just 24 hours prior to England’s Nations League match against Denmark in Copenhagen on Tuesday night.
And while Southgate will be disappointed in their actions, Neville feels Southgate may show some empathy towards Foden and Greenwood.
‘I would say Gareth is the one manager that England have had in the last 20 to 30 years who is most capable of making the correct decision around these types of disciplinary issues,’ he told Sportsmail.
Foden and Greenwood invited two Icelandic girls (above) into their biosecure Covid-19 bubble
‘He really has got empathy with the players and also understands that things aren’t right sometimes and you have to step in. I’d always trust him on those things.’
It is the second off-the-pitch incident that the England manager has had to deal with during this international break following the omission of centre back Harry Maguire due to his holidaying incident in Mykonos, Greece last month.
And Neville, who was a former England team-mate of Southgate’s as well as assistant manager of the national side during Roy Hodgson’s reign between 2012-16, points to the 50-year-old’s handling of Maguire as another reason as to why he has every faith in the Three Lions boss.
Neville, a former England assistant coach, says Southgate is capable of sorting these issues
‘Gareth has got an immense amount of experience with England with these type of things,’ Neville continued during a TalkTalk media opportunity.
‘He was with me after the dentist chair night and smashing up the Cathay Pacific plane on the way back from Hong Kong [before Euro 96].
‘There were also incidents in ’98 with players pre-tournament and Gareth has so much experience how to deal with these types of things.
‘I thought Gareth handled the Harry Maguire situation pretty well. He named him in the England squad and then later that day when Harry had an issue over in Mykonos with the court then he obviously changed his mind.
Neville also claimed Southgate managed the Harry Maguire (above) issue well after his arrest
‘He offered the support to the player and I think he’s handled both situations well.’
Wales manager Ryan Giggs echoed Neville’s sentiments. Giggs will face Southgate in October, when England host Wales at Wembley next month and he sympathised with his counterpart as his focus for the Denmark game has now been shrouded by off-the-field matters.
‘Gareth’s having a press conference and he’ll want to win a game,’ he said. ‘He’ll be concentrating on that when he knows questions won’t be on that.
‘It’s very often that things that come as a surprise and you’ve not planned for and expected that is the most difficult part of the job.’
Wales’ Ryan Giggs (above) praised Southgate for how he controlled the issue at short notice
Speaking on Monday afternoon, Southgate said of the incident: ‘I think at the moment I’m trying to take a lot of information in.
‘Obviously they have been naive, we have dealt with it appropriately. I recognise their age but the whole world is dealing with this pandemic.
‘I’m a father with children, young adults, I know people get things wrong. I’m not excusing that in this instance.
‘These are two boys I don’t know particularly well at the moment so can’t speak in great depth. I have got to try and speak with them later in the appropriate way. They have got responsibilities and they have apologised.
Southgate confirmed in a press conference that both players have apologised for their actions
‘This is a job like no other in terms of the things you have to deal with. In terms of what is expected, the players who have been with us a longer time know exactly what is expected – whenever people have stepped across that line we have dealt with it appropriately.
‘The two boys are going to find themselves in a position where there will be lots of judgement of them from afar. They understand they have got this wrong. Our job is to get on with the game.
‘Nothing has happened in the areas we occupy in the hotel. We are still getting the depths of the information. Still getting to grips with the detail. We have spent such a long time getting measures in place and the whole squad followed that to the letter.
Foden also posted an apology on social media (above) to England supporters for the ordeal
‘I’m not going into any more details until I’m clear of everything. No-one from outside the hotel has been into the areas we occupy.’
Following the news, Foden has since taken to social media to apologise for his action with his club Manchester City declaring his actions as ‘totally inappropriate’ in a statement.
Meanwhile, Manchester United revealed they are ‘liaising with the Football Association and are disappointed with the actions of Mason Greenwood over this situation.’
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