GARETH SOUTHGATE must hope his England players grow up faster than he thinks they look.
The Three Lions’ boss poked fun at baby-faced Phil Foden’s lack of aging but failed to recognise three other squad members when shown childhood photos.
Gareth Southgate believes the aging process has yet to hit England ace Phil Foden, 21
Phil Foden has changed his appearance even more with a new hair colourCredit: AFP
Stunned Southgate said of Foden’s snap: “Probably taken about a year ago, looking at his face.”
Not bad recognition given that Manchester City playmaker Foden, 21, decided to go blond over the weekend, ahead of Tuesday night’s final group game with the Czech Republic.
But Southgate presented something of an own goal to those critics who believe he should have started Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish in the first two games.
That’s because he was unable to identify Grealish as a kid.
The same goes for Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson and John Stones.
Overall, though, Southgate said: “It’s interesting – because a lot of the boys haven’t changed too much.. but that’s maybe partly their age.”
In fact, England have one of their youngest ever squads for a major tournament, with an average age of just 24.8.
Only Spain (24.1) and big flops Turkey (24.6) have younger 26-man units.
Southgate claimed he was “thrown” by midfielder Henderson having blond hair as a kid.
But he admitted he would not have recognised Grealish – only seeing the light when the whizkid’s Villa-colour claret top was pointed out to him.
Now it’s up to Grealish to prove Southgate can identify his new maturity ON the pitch.
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