According to ESPN, Gareth Southgate is considering fast-tracking young star Kobbie Mainoo through the England ranks as interest in the teenager intensifies from Ghana.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who has consistently impressed under the guidance of Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford, marked his 10th consecutive appearance in all competitions with a victory over Aston Villa this Sunday.
Mainoo, who has dawned the England jersey at the U17, U18, and U19 levels, faces the possibility of switching international allegiance to Ghana, the birthplace of his parents. Despite his ties to Ghana, where he still spends time, the Ghanaian Football Association has openly expressed its desire to have Mainoo play for their national team.
ESPN reports that Southgate sees substantial promise in Mainoo and is considering fast-tracking his development within the England ranks. The decision on whether Mainoo will leapfrog to the senior squad or join the U21s instead of the U20s is pending, with his continued impressive performance for Manchester United being a significant factor.
This topic is expected to be a significant point of discussion between Southgate and England U21s manager Lee Carsley in the upcoming weeks. England is reportedly confident in Mainoo’s desire to represent the country. However, he remains eligible to play for Ghana until he participates in a competitive senior international match. The challenge is that England’s immediate fixture list, which includes four friendly matches before this summer’s European Championship, does not offer an immediate competitive setting for Mainoo to cap-tie to England.
With matches against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley on the horizon, one potential avenue for securing Mainoo’s commitment could be his selection for Euro 2024. However, given Mainoo’s relatively brief first-team experience, totaling 17 appearances, and the reduction of the squad size to 23 players from the 26 allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, this would represent a significant decision by Southgate. The implication is that Mainoo may have to wait until the autumn for a chance to compete in a qualifying match, given the constraints on squad experimentation.