Phil Foden leaves England camp to deal with ‘family matter’

England forward Phil Foden has temporarily left the team’s Euro 2024 camp and returned to the U.K. to deal with a “pressing family matter,” a Football Association spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sources have told ESPN that the reason is for the birth of his third child.

The 24-year-old has started all three of England’s matches during the tournament and a source has told ESPN that there is optimism within the camp that he will be able to return to Gareth Southgate’s squad in time for their round-of-16 match on Sunday.

England secured top spot in Group C following their 0-0 draw with Slovenia in Cologne on Tuesday.

The Euro 2020 finalists are yet to discover who they will face in the round of 16, but they have avoided having to face European heavyweights France, Spain, Portugal and tournament hosts Germany who are all on the other side of the draw.

Southgate and his team have received heavy criticism for their performances in all three matches, in which they have scored two goals and produced lacklustre displays, particularly in attack.

Foden was named the Football Writers’ Men’s Footballer of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season for his stellar performances for Manchester City as they won the title for a fourth consecutive year.

The attacker scored 19 goals and contributed eight assists for his club in the Premier League last season playing centrally and in wide positions.

However, Foden has struggled to reproduce his club performances for his country as England’s star-studded forward line, which also includes Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane, has repeatedly struggled for inspiration during the Euros.

The team’s sluggish performances have caused Southgate to come under pressure from fans and journalists.

The England boss questioned the “unusual environment” around the team after they were booed off against Slovenia and urged supporters to back the team “however they feel towards me.”