Gareth Southgate explains Kobbie Mainoo U-turn and drops hint over England debut | Football

Mainoo was initially left out of the squad last week (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate says he ‘won’t hesitate’ to hand Kobbie Mainoo his England debut after explaining his decision to make a U-turn over calling the Manchester United starlet into his squad.

Mainoo, 18, made his Premier League debut for Erik ten Hag’s side last November and has grown into a key player at Old Trafford in that short space of time, turning in another superb performance in the FA Cup victory over Liverpool.

The midfielder was initially left out of the England squad for friendly games against Brazil and Belgium when Southgate named his 25-man group last week and was instead named in the Under-21 squad.

A few days later, however, he was called into the senior side.

Asked about Mainoo’s inclusion, Southgate told a press conference on Friday: ‘We’ve been blessed with St George’s Park being built. This week some of our Under-17s have come over to work with us, our Under-21s were there.

‘You get a club feel so hopefully that transition is as straight forward as possible because the players have a better chance of performing at their best level if they feel comfortable off the pitch.

‘With Kobbie, I said last week we were conscious of his development about how quickly we should go. You need to try make the right steps at the right time with young players. But opportunity presented itself and for us he was the next player in. We didn’t want to stop that from happening.’

Kobbie Mainoo

Mainoo has been in sensational form for his club (Picture: Getty)

‘As we thought, He’s fitted in brilliantly. His level of training has been excellent – we won’t hesitate to put him on the pitch.’

Mainoo has made 20 appearances for United since coming into the side in November.

Jordan Henderson is expected to miss the Brazil game on Saturday which could hand Mainoo a chance to make his international debut alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in a midfield packed with thrilling options.

‘We need to see other players ahead of the Euros,’ Southgate said.

‘If we were playing lesser teams you’d still have that question in your mind if they played well, ‘OK, how are they going to be against the next level of opposition?’

‘So from our perspective it’s a great exercise and opportunity.’

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