England outcast Phil Foden has been restored to the squad by boss Gareth Southgate following his Covid-19 breach shame with two girls in Iceland, returning in spite of Mason Greenwood, who was also involved, being left out again.
Furious England coach Southgate had warned the disgraced duo that it would take time for them to regain his trust following the scandal in September, when they were both abruptly banished from his Nations League squad after it emerged that they had invited two pinup cousins to their hotel despite strict isolation measures over Covid-19 fears.
Lara Clausen, 19, and Nadia Sif Lindal Gunnarsdottir, 20, gave the game away by sharing Snapchat footage of the frolic, later claiming that they “didn’t know any better” and were not aware that the “gentlemen” who “treated us really well” had been quarantining footballers.
Foden swiftly issued a groveling social media apology, saying that his omission from the group that drew in Denmark days later “hurt”.
The in-form 20-year-old is now back in the squad and could even start against Iceland again when England face them in the return fixture at Wembley later this month.
A friendly at home to Ireland and a potentially trickier Nations League test in Belgium precede that fixture, with Southgate saying he had been impressed by Foden’s strong start to the season in the Premier League and Champions League with City.
England have failed to score in two of the four games that Foden has missed, and Southgate pointed to his creativity and goalscoring threat as the two major reasons for his return.
There has been no such redemption yet for Manchester United forward Greenwood, who admitted he had been “irresponsible” and made a “huge mistake” by partying with the photogenic pair.
Southgate admitted that the decision to keep the 19-year-old in exile had been made easier by his lack of involvement in Manchester United’s early season struggles, although he insisted that the high-profile disciplinary disaster had not been a factor in his selection decisions.
“They were both available – there’s no carry-over from what happened in September,” Southgate told reporters.
“That’s done, they’re both available for selection and both are going to be very good players, there’s no doubt about that.
“They don’t come as a pair. They’re individual players with their own strengths and individual talents.
“We’re not just judging them over the last few weeks, it’s over a longer period.
“Once again, as we’re heading towards a difficult time as a nation [lockdown], we’re privileged to be playing football. We recognize how fortunate we are to be doing that.”
Southgate had words of comfort for Greenwood after announcing that the youngster’s international year had ended with that transgression in the company of his glamorous hotel guests.
“We’ve got huge belief in him as a young player,” emphasized the sympathetic coach.
“He’s on an incredible trajectory, really, for somebody so young.
“Although this might be a small disappointment for him, there’s a huge amount of time ahead of him.
“I’ve spoken to Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer, United manager] this week and we’re aligned on helping him to be the best player he can be.”