Kobbie Mainoo snubbed as Danny Murphy names his ideal England midfield | Football

Kobbie Mainoo will make his full England debut against Belgium (Photo: Getty)

Gareth Southgate should play defender John Stones in England’s midfield alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham.

That is the opinion of former Three Lions star Danny Murphy amid the debate surrounding the national team’s midfield.

Rice and Bellingham are guaranteed to start for their country but everyone has their own idea of who should play alongside them.

Many fans and pundits would love to see a creative No.10 play ahead of the duo like Phil Foden or James Maddison.

But Southgate seems set on a more conservative approach with a No.8 linking play between the Real Madrid and Arsenal stars.

The likes of Jordan Henderson and Conor Gallagher have filled that position to mixed results, while right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold can also play there but injuries mean he hasn’t had many opportunities to do so.

In Tuesday night’s friendly against Belgium, Manchester United wonderkid Kobbie Mainoo will start alongside captain Rice and while he is a popular pick to start at Euro 2024, this will only be his second international cap.

England v Brazil - International Friendly

John Stones is England’s best centre-back (Photo: Getty)

Murphy has now suggested a slightly left-field option, believing that moving centre-back Stones into midfield would be ‘ideal’ for England.

‘He [Southgate] didn’t talk about Bellingham playing in that role next to Declan at all,’ the former midfielder said on talkSPORT.

‘He mentioned everybody but him. So, he seems dead set on playing Bellingham where he plays for Madrid as a 10. Don’t get me wrong, playing Bellingham as a 10 in some games is great, fine, no problem.

England v Senegal: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice are guaranteed to start for the Three Lions (Photo: Getty)

‘But I also think he should be open-minded to dropping him in and playing him next [to Rice] because of his athleticism, tenacity, ability to cover the yards. He can pass, he can tackle, he can do all the stuff the other lads do in that position, and we have got other No.10s.

‘So, I’m surprised that he didn’t cover himself by saying, “Well Jude can drop in there and play there as well”. He might say he did cover himself because of the fact that he said it depends on the opposition, but the reality is he didn’t mention him because I don’t think he’s got an intention of playing him there.

‘I would play Stones holding and have Declan Rice and Bellingham. That’s the ideal situation.

‘I think Rice is perfect for it [playing as a No.8]. He’s shown it in the games when Jorginho’s played. He’s played that beautifully that role.’

While a centre-back by trade, Stones has often operated in midfield for Manchester City, doing so a lot last season to great acclaim as Pep Guardiola’s side won the treble.

The 29-year-old was once trialled in a defensive midfield role for England but that was way back in 2017 in a 3-2 friendly loss to France, and with centre-back one of the team’s weakest areas, Southgate is unlikely to move him out of there any time soon.

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