Jamie Carragher was perplexed by Gareth Southgate's "strange" decision to leave "special talent" Phil Foden on the bench in England's goalless World Cup draw with the United States.
The Three Lions remain top of Group B and on the brink of qualifying for the round of 16 heading into a clash with Wales on Tuesday, but were fortunate to secure a point against USA at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday.
England were sluggish and were almost punished when Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar in the first half after Weston McKennie wasted a good opportunity to open the scoring.
Southgate brought on Jordan Henderson, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford in the second half, but Manchester City attacking midfielder Foden was an unused substitute.
Former England defender Carragher cannot understand why Foden has not been included in the starting line-up or at least brought off the bench earlier, stating that City boss Pep Guardiola would turn to the 22-year-old ahead of Grealish.
He wrote in his column for The Telegraph: "I was among those hoping Gareth Southgate would turn to the Manchester City youngster. It was baffling that he remained on the bench when the game was crying out for his creativity.
"If you had told me before the tournament that Foden would only feature for 19 minutes of the first two World Cup games, my initial thought would be he must be injured.
"When asked to select my starting XI for the opening fixture against Iran, Foden was in it. The more the squad was studied, the harder it was to leave him out. He is too much of a special talent.
"Speak to any football supporter watching the Premier League over the last three years and ask 'who is the most naturally gifted English footballer today?' and 80 per cent would say Foden. The other 20 per cent are not watching closely enough.
"For Southgate to turn to his substitutes and opt for his City team-mate Jack Grealish ahead of him felt strange. Would Pep Guardiola look to Grealish before Foden if seeking a winning goal? Highly unlikely."
Not the result we aimed for, but a step closer to qualification— England (@England) November 25, 2022
Ex-Liverpool defender Carragher added: "Foden has had plenty of opportunities for England, so it is not as if Southgate has ignored him. But although it is very early in his career, there have been times watching Foden playing for his country when his situation has reminded me of John Barnes in his heyday.
"For those too young to remember, between 1987-91, Barnes was not only the most talented England player of his generation, he was streets ahead of the rest.
"Think of Thierry Henry during his peak years at Arsenal. That is how good Barnes was for Liverpool. Yet for England, he was a shadow of himself.
"The question was often asked whether the problem was Barnes or England. Surely it cannot be so difficult to accommodate a rare talent?
"It is imperative history does not repeat itself with Foden. Already, it is a shame he is not one of the first picks in the starting line-up, let alone the first go-to player from the bench.
"When Foden played in the last Euros you would have thought it certain he would be established in the side by now. Instead, others have jumped ahead of him.
"I really like Bukayo Saka and have no criticism about his selection given his Arsenal form. I also understand the loyalty to Raheem Sterling who has been one of the best players in the Southgate era.
"Over the last few days we have been rightly talking about Jude Bellingham a lot. But can it just be shrugged aside what Foden has been doing in the Premier League?
"To me, he eclipses those chosen ahead of him. I truly believe if he was Spanish he would be in their first XI."