Sunday, February 25, 2024

Kobbie Mainoo is keeping his international options open despite growing interest from Gareth Southgate in handing him an England call up… with the Man United starlet also eligible to represent Ghana

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Manchester United midfield player Kobbie Mainoo is planning to keep his international options open until later this year despite growing interest from Gareth Southgate

The England manager watched Mainoo’s 10th successive Premier League start for United in their 2-1 win at Aston Villa yesterday, but the 18-year-old is also eligible for Ghana and in no rush to make a decision.

Mainoo will accept any call-up he is offered by England having already represented them at under 16, under 18 and under 19 level, but has no immediate plans to make a definitive decision on his international career. 

The Stockport-born midfield player qualifies for Ghana through his parents, with Ghana FA Board member Randy Abbey telling The Times last week that they are hopeful of persuading Mainoo to switch his allegiance to the Black Stars.

Mainoo is expected to defer his decision until he is confident of breaking into the senior England squad on a regular basis, which despite his impressive performances for United is not likely to be until the autumn at the earliest.

Kobbie Mainoo is keeping his international options open amid interest from Gareth Southgate

18-year-old has played an integral part in Manchester United's uptick in form in recent weeks

18-year-old has played an integral part in Manchester United’s uptick in form in recent weeks

Southgate has previously shown a willingness to fast-track talented young players with dual nationality into his senior squad, with Mason Greenwood given his first cap at the age of 18 for example, but this approach is not practical with Mainoo in the short term as England do not have any competitive matches other than the European Championship until September.

As previously reported by Mail Sport the FA are confident of retaining Mainoo’s services, but have not been given any guarantees. Under FIFA eligibility rules a player can change their nationality at any time if they have only played in friendlies, while those aged under 21 can also switch after three years if they have played fewer than three competitive matches.

Mainoo will not make a formal decision until he is in contention for competitive senior caps, which given the proximity of the European Championship is not expected to be until the autumn at the earliest. 

Mainoo has represented England at multiple youth levels and has played six times for the U19s

But the burgeoning talent is also eligible to represent Ghana internationally though his parents

But the burgeoning talent is also eligible to represent Ghana internationally though his parents

England have friendlies against Brazil and Belgium next month, and warm-up games against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland in June, before beginning their next UEFA Nations League campaign with matches against Republic of Ireland and Finland in September.

While Mainoo has impressed in a defensive midfield role for United Southgate is convinced he will develop into a box-to-box attacking player, putting him in the same bracket as Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden rather than Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips. 

Given his impressive performances in recent months however, a first call-up for Lee Carsley’s under 21 squad next month for their European Championship qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg is a distinct possibility.



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