England Under-21s star Phil Foden will not be rushed into the senior side, according to Aidy Boothroyd.
The Manchester City midfielder controversially started Friday’s crucial 4-2 defeat to Romania, which dumped the Young Lions out of Euro 2019, on the bench.
He came on in the second half – having scored a brilliant solo goal in Tuesday’s loss to France – but could not rescue the Young Lions.
Foden started just 14 games for City last season and Under-21s boss Boothroyd believes he is coming to a crucial period of his development.
He said: “I think his next six months, three months will be an indicator of where he gets to and what he is ready for internationally. But, right now, September-time, I’d imagine he will be with me.
“He is the hardest player to get off the training pitch that we have got. I literally have to chase him around to get the ball off him and get him in.
“Because he has that youthful exuberance where he wants to play every second, every minute of every game.
“When I looked at him before the (Romania) game, when I picked the team, I was thinking ‘How can we get the best out of this kid in the next five games?’
“That was the aim, the goal, what we wanted to do. Part of that was, ‘OK, we will get him on the pitch as much as possible’ but I have to use my eyes, my experience and look at players.
“I need to think ‘Right, OK, he needs to come off now, it looks like he is blowing, he’s leggy. Give him a bit of time, let the game settle down and put him on.'”
Boothroyd also outlined why he left Foden on the bench for the must-win clash in Cesena.
“Well, you do (want to start him) but if your best player has a really strong chance of getting injured because of the work that he has done, then no – you don’t,” he said.
“It’s all right trying to win the next one but it is a balancing act. I think the fact that Ses (Ryan Sessegnon) pulled his hamstring is a testament to the fine line that you walk.”
Morocco have their sights set on reaching the latter stages of the Africa Cup of Nations, according to midfielder Youssef Ait Bennasser.
Herve Renard’s side begin their campaign against Namibia, who are ranked 113th in the world, on Sunday and with tricky clashes against the Ivory Coast and South Africa still to come in Group D, they will be targeting all three points.
Monaco’s Ait Bennasser is hopeful Morocco can go far in the competition, something Renard is used to doing having lifted the trophy twice – first as Zambia boss in 2012 and then with the Ivory Coast in 2015.
Ait Bennasser told a press conference, reported by the Confederation of African Football’s official Twitter account: “Four years ago I joined the national team and it’s a huge honour.
“We want to go far in this tournament this time.”
Namibia manager Ricardo Mannetti insists his team are not there just to make up the numbers.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, he said: “Our expectations are putting in some good performances – we’re in the group of death but we’re not there just to be a number.
“We’ll try to impress everyone and make our fans happy.”
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse accepts his side are one of the favourites for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Senegal’s best result at the continental tournament was in 2002 when they finished runners-up, but they are expected to challenge for a first crown in Egypt.
They begin their Group C campaign against Tanzania on Sunday, but Cisse is warning his side to take every game seriously.
They will be without Liverpool striker Sadio Mane, who is suspended after an accumulation of yellow cards during the qualification stage.
Cisse told the tournament’s official website: “We will take it game by game because we know that anything can happen.
“It is true that we are one of the favourites, but to reach that level we will have to beat everyone, and it will begin with Tanzania on June 23.
“We must focus on our abilities and not think of our opponents.
“Senegal and Algeria are the favourites of this group, but Kenya and Tanzania should not be underestimated. I can tell you, Senegal is not afraid of any team today.”