Gareth Southgate gives verdict on Man Utd star Kobbie Mainoo and suggests position change | Football

Kobbie Mainoo has quickly become a star for Manchester United (Picture: Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate has been impressed by Kobbie Mainoo, saying the Manchester United youngster is ‘doing brilliantly’ but predicts that he may change position as his career develops.

The 18-year-old has burst into the Red Devils first team and made nine Premier League starts since late December, seemingly nailing down a place in Erik ten Hag’s starting XI.

As a product of the youth system he has quickly become a firm favourite with the Old Trafford faithful, helped by his first top flight goal coming in the form of a dramatic last minute winner against Wolves.

There appears to be a place up for grabs in England’s midfield this summer alongside Declan Rice, usually held by Kalvin Phillips, but his form and fitness not entirely proven as he spends the second half of the campaign on loan from Manchester City at West Ham.

Some are already suggesting that Mainoo could make a bid to fill that role alongside Rice and behind Jude Bellingham for the Three Lions at the European Championships.

Southgate didn’t go as far as predicting that, but he did suggest that Mainoo’s future may be as a more offensive midfield player than the current, largely defensive role he has been filling for his club.

‘He’s doing brilliantly,’ said the England manager. ‘I’m not certain he’s necessarily going to be a defensive midfielder, as such.

England v Hungary - UEFA U19 European Championship Elite Qualifying Round

Mainoo has played for England up to Under-19 level (Picture: Getty Images)

‘He’s quite a progressive player but he’s had a fabulous start to his career and it will be good to monitor him as we go forward.’

Mainoo, born in Stockport, has already represented England from Under-17 to Under-19 level, but could still choose to represent Ghana at full international level.

Randy Abbey, a member of the executive council of the Ghana FA, told The Times: ‘The Ghana Football Association is interested in monitoring, attracting, and persuading all eligible talents for its various national teams.

‘Kobbie is definitely one of these incredible talents and the association would love to work with him and many like him at home and abroad.’

Southgate will likely want to avoid that happening, with reports earlier this season suggesting that the FA are confident that the Manchester United man sees his international future with England.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-WEST HAM

Mainoo celebrates alongside fellow Manchester United youngsters Rasmus Hojlund and Alejandro Garnacho (Picture: Getty Images)

Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes said of Mainoo: ‘He’s a big talent. I have seen it in the past. I saw him play for the Under-18’s two or three years ago and I said to a friend who was in Manchester and wanted to see some youth games, I said at the time the name of Kobbie [was one to watch]. We didn’t know he was going to be this talent and this player.’


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