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Brentford boss Thomas Frank has backed Phil Foden as the England player most likely to be crowned Ballon d’Or winner.

The 23-year-old scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Brentford earlier this month and the Bees manager was wary of a repeat showing ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between the sides at the Etihad Stadium.

Brentford were the last team to beat the defending Premier League champions at their Etihad home, Ivan Toney scoring the late winner in a 2-1 triumph in November 2022.

Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank’s Brentford were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City when the teams last met (Nick Potts/PA)

And they briefly led Pep Guardiola’s side again at the Gtech Stadium 14 days ago before Foden took over to steal the show with three well-taken strikes.

With 15 goals in 35 games so far in all competitions Foden is one short of his best scoring season for City and has featured in all but one of their league games this term.

“He’s a very good player,” said Frank, whose team have lost eight of their last 10 in the league and are 14th, six points above the bottom three.

“For me, he’s the closest England get to potentially having a Ballon d’Or winner in the future. I think he’s got that potential, that level.

“I think he influences the game in so many ways. Last game he got on the end of three situations, scored three goals. He’s very good dribbling, he’s very good sliding people in, works very hard.

“He seems to have a good mentality. I don’t know him personally, but he looks form the outside to have a very good mentality in terms of working hard.

Phil Foden
Phil Foden is one short of his best scoring season for City (Adam Davy/PA)

“He is very good, but there are so many good players; (Kevin) De Bruyne, (Erling) Haaland, Rodri, (Jeremy) Doku, (Julian) Alvarez. The whole team.”

Frank predicted his team would need to play “almost the perfect game” if they are to match the heroics of last season – when they also defeated City at home on the final day – but fretted they have been defensively more porous than he would have liked this campaign.

“In general we’re good defensively, don’t give much away,” he said. “But this season we’ve been giving more away than usual. That’s something we’re trying to adjust.”

The meeting on February 5 was marred by a spat between Neal Maupay and City’s Kyle Walker, with the Brentford striker allegedly making personal remarks about the defender’s family.

In an interview with The Times on Sunday, Maupay said he did not believe that his actions had crossed a line.

Frank came to the defence of his player, who has scored five times in his last seven appearances in all competitions.

“All players are different, what gets them to tick, what they think is important for them to perform,” he said. “That I always respect.

“In terms of winding players up, it’s part of the game. It’s a fine line not to cross. If he does that or not, I don’t know. As far as I know Neal is a good guy, a good teammate and he’s very good for us.”