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Friendlies 1
Mar 26, 2024 at 7.45pm UK
Wembley Stadium

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Manchester United starlet 'to make full international debut on Tuesday'

:Headline: Manchester United starlet 'to make full international debut on Tuesday':
England boss Gareth Southgate reportedly plans to hand Manchester United's Kobbie Mainoo his full international debut in Tuesday's friendly with Belgium.
Sports Mole

Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is expected to make his first start for England against Belgium in Tuesday's friendly, according to a report.

The 18-year-old was brought off the bench in Saturday's friendly loss to Brazil for his first senior cap for the Three Lions, making his maiden senior appearance before even earning his Under-21s baptism.

Gareth Southgate resisted calls to include Mainoo in his initial first-team squad for March's friendlies, meaning that the midfielder was instead called up to Lee Carsley's Young Lions for their Euro 2025 qualifiers.

However, Mainoo - who is still eligible to play for Ghana on account of only featuring in friendlies for England so far - was almost immediately promoted to the first-team ranks upon arrival at St George's Park.

The 2005-born starlet became England's 19th-youngest male player when he was introduced in the second half of the loss to Brazil, although his thunder was stolen by 17-year-old Endrick, who scored the only goal of the match.

Now, Sky Sports News reports that Mainoo will be promoted to the starting lineup for the showdown with Belgium on Tuesday evening, and he is expected to take Conor Gallagher's spot in the three-man engine room.

Mainoo will be joined by Jude Bellingham - featuring in his recognisable advanced position - and stand-in captain Declan Rice for the visit of the Red Devils, where his start will mark another significant step in his rapid progression.

After catching the eye at youth level, Mainoo's pre-season was curtailed by a serious ankle injury, which also ruled him out of the first portion of the 2023-24 campaign as he spent months in the infirmary.

Since making a full recovery, though, Mainoo has quickly risen up Erik ten Hag's midfield pecking order to become Casemiro's first-choice partner, starting each of their last 12 Premier League games and scoring a dramatic late winner against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The teenager could be one of a few England players bidding for their full debuts on Tuesday, as Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite may earn a shot in the heart of defence following Harry Maguire's withdrawal.

Maguire was one of three men to pull out of the squad after the clash with Brazil, a list which also includes Manchester City's Kyle Walker, who came off injured in the first half of Saturday's defeat.

With Walker also returning to his club for treatment, Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa is in line to deputise at right-back, as he did for 70 minutes against Brazil on what was his maiden Three Lions appearance.

However, the report adds that Liverpool's Joe Gomez can expect to be frustrated in his bid to start on the opposite side of defence, as Southgate is expected to keep faith in Ben Chilwell for the time being.

The Chelsea man failed to have much of a positive attacking impact on Saturday, with only one of his four crosses being accurate, but he will apparently hold his place in the backline regardless.

Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford and Manchester City's Rico Lewis have been added to the squad from the Under-21s due to recent withdrawals, but neither man is expected to force their way into the first XI on Tuesday. body check tags ::

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