Gareth Southgate: Kobbie Mainoo gives us something different in midfield
(Photo by Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate says Kobbie Mainoo offers England a unique profile in midfield as the 18-year-old bids to gatecrash his squad for Euro 2024.

Mainoo, 18, was awarded Player of the Match on his first senior start for the national side after a scintillating display against Belgium at Wembley.

The Manchester United midfielder, who only made his professional debut in November, gives England a different dynamic in midfield as a more cerebral option.

Southgate will name a preliminary squad for the tournament on May 21 before confirming his final 23-man squad on June 8.

And there is no doubt in the England manager's mind how tonight's audition went for Mainoo.

"Kobbie's attributes are there for everyone to see," Southgate said post-match. "The ability to receive under pressure and ride challenges, to manipulate the ball in tight areas. 

"We were a little bit more open, there's no doubt about that. We wanted to press aggressively, and there's times we turned the ball over on the edge of their box when we had chances we should have taken. 

"We had problems in other ways with their players pulling wide and leaving Lukaku one-on-one. He gives us a different profile in midfield to anything we've got, he's adapted and adjusted brilliantly. 

"You can't believe his age really, that he's taken everything in his stride in as he has."

Mainoo is the third-youngest Man United player to start for England(Photo by Michael Regan - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
Mainoo is the third-youngest Man United player to start for England(Photo by Michael Regan - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

He added: "Everything that we've seen with his club, he reproduced in an England shirt which isn't always the case. Very calm, receives the ball so well under pressure, strong, so we are a little bit more open playing that way but the benefits with the ball were clear to see."

Southgate defended the call to start John Stones twice in four days after the Manchester City defender was forced off with an adductor injury inside 10 minutes.

The severity is unknown but he is a doubt for Sunday's clash with Arsenal at the Etihad. His teammate Kyle Walker, who suffered hamstring discomfort against Brazil on Saturday, is also unlikely to be in contention.

But Southgate defended his decision to start the centre-back, pointing to the fact he had not played for two weeks.

He said: "We measure everything and the first game for him wasn’t a game that was a high level in terms of the intensity. We have done exactly what Holland did with Virgil van Dijk tonight. What Norway did with Erling Haaland and [Martin] Odegaard starting them again. Holland also started (Nathan) Ake again.

‌“So it only ever seems to fall on us when there is a question around that. Of course we are disappointed if he’s got a problem, it seems to be in the adductor area so we’ll have to wait and see. John also came in on the back of the back of not having played for two weeks so it is not an overload situation. But I hate sending players back to their clubs if they are not fully fit.”

Stones is a doubt for Sunday's clash with Arsenal after suffering an adductor injury against Belgium(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Stones is a doubt for Sunday's clash with Arsenal after suffering an adductor injury against Belgium(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Asked whether he is any closer to knowing his 23-man squad for the Euros, he said: "There's so many unknowns in terms of who might be available. These performances were very important to see whether these players could play against high-level opposition.

"But equally how they play in their games between now and the end of the season in big matches will have a high tariff too.

"I wanted to see Anthony Gordon again, I thought he had an excellent impact in the first game, and I thought James Maddison could open things up a bit for us."

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