As Ghanaian interest in the teenage sensation grows, Gareth Southgate is thinking of pushing young Manchester United star Kobbie Mainoo through the England ranks more quickly, sources have told ESPN.
Under Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford, the 18-year-old has shown enormous promise as a midfielder. On Sunday, he started his tenth straight game in all competitions as United defeated Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park.
Mainoo is qualified to change his allegiance to Ghana, the country of his parents’ birth, despite having played for England at the under-17, under-18, and under-19 levels.
The young player still spends some of his free time in Ghana, where the football association of that nation stated earlier this month that they were eager to persuade Mainoo to play for them internationally.
ESPN has learned from sources that Southgate is eager to see Mainoo advance with England and feels he has a lot of promise.
Mainoo may be included in Southgate’s senior squad, if he maintains his excellent form for United, but it is more probable at this point that he will bypass the U20s and join England’s U21 squad. Southgate will announce his team on March 14.
One of the main topics of discussion between Southgate and U21s manager Lee Carsley in the coming weeks will be Mainoo’s involvement.
Mainoo will only lose his eligibility for Ghana when he participates in a competitive senior international match, and this year’s schedule has made it more difficult. However, sources indicate that England is certain that Mainoo wants to play for them and that they want to incorporate him into the system.
Before the European Championship this summer, England will play four friendlies, starting next month with home games against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley.
One option would be for Southgate to choose Mainoo for Euro 2024, but considering that he has only made 17 first-team appearances, that would be a big decision.
Additionally, Southgate can only designate a 23-man squad, down from the 26-man groups that were used at the previous World Cup and Euros and were initially increased because to COVID-19 concerns. This implies that Mainoo may not be eligible to play competitively until the autumn and that there will be less opportunity for experimentation.
In the midfield, Southgate now prefers players like Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, and Conor Gallagher. In England’s previous team for matches against Malta and North Macedonia, Trent Alexander-Arnold was also named as a midfield player.