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‘Strange situation’: Gareth Southgate shares first reaction to Kobbie Mainoo’s England debut

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Endrick may have stolen the headlines as Brazil beat England on Saturday night, but we are only interested in one of the wonderkids on show at Wembley Stadium.

He hardly needs an introduction at this point, but we are of course talking about Kobbie Mainoo.

In a rather flat encounter at Wembley, United fans were just hoping for a glimpse of Mainoo in an England shirt.

The moment duly arrived in with 15 minutes to play as Mainoo – stood alongside United teammate Marcus Rashford – was introduced.

Mainoo replaced Conor Gallagher in midfield and showed some of the poise, composure and technical brilliance that we have already witnessed in a United shirt.

The 18-year-old didn’t look out of place but could only watch on as Endrick won it with 10 minutes to play, handing Brazil the victory.

Mainoo’s international future still remains up in the air; whilst he now has his first England cap, he could still switch to play for Ghana Ghana.

Only competitive appearances can secure Mainoo for England and the man in control of that – at least for now – is Gareth Southgate…


Southgate received criticism for not calling Mainoo up in the first place after seeing the teenager not only break into the United first team, but look like a seasoned professional in the process.

Mainoo was bumped up to the senior side after a few injuries and Southgate has now shared his reaction to the United wonder kid’s display.

Speaking to The Independent after the final whistle, Southgate noted that Mainoo making his debut against Brazil was a ‘strange situation’.

Southgate felt that he needed to freshen up his midfield and manage his players carefully, so this was a chance for Mainoo to get a taste of international football.

Southgate added that this was a truly ‘brilliant’ moment for Mainoo, and he saw really encouraging signs from the ‘really composed’ United talent.

“Kobbie was a chance to dip his toes,” said Southgate. “We needed to refresh some of the team because we’ve got to manage their minutes a little bit, so that’s a strange situation when it’s a game of that size but that’s where we are.”

“To get Kobbie on the pitch was a brilliant moment for him and his family. You saw a couple of turns and a couple of really composed moments that is a bit of an indication of what he might become,” he added.

England v Brazil - International Friendly

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Mainoo in the mix for Euro 2024

Mainoo enjoyed a rather encouraging night – and it’s not all because of his own performance.

Conor Gallagher started in midfield but didn’t exactly impress, certainly not enough to prove that he is the nailed-on starter next to Declan Rice.

Kalvin Phillips has faded out of the picture and an injury to Jordan Henderson means Mainoo is really moving up the England ranks.

Don’t be surprised to see Mainoo play more minutes against Belgium in midweek and a positive performance would put him right in the mix for Euro 2024.

Yes, Mainoo doesn’t have all that much football under his belt, but he is truly special.

Manchester United fans know it and the momentum is really building for the prospect after Saturday’s England debut.

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