Kobbie Mainoo set for international call-up amid England vs Ghana battle | OneFootball

Kobbie Mainoo set for international call-up amid England vs Ghana battle | OneFootball

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·17 February 2024

Kobbie Mainoo set for international call-up amid England vs Ghana battle

Article image:Kobbie Mainoo set for international call-up amid England vs Ghana battle

Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is expected to be included in England's Under-21 squad next month as the battle over his international future between the Three Lions and Ghana continues.

Mainoo was born in Stockport, Greater Manchester and has already represented England at Under-17 and Under-19 level. He is also eligible for Ghana through his parents and the west African country's football association has confirmed they would like to see him switch allegiance.

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The Daily Mail writes that England's FA are aware of the Ghana interest and are set to take steps by promoting 18-year-old Mainoo to the Under-21 squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg for his first taste of the next age group up the ladder.

Such a move won't lock him in for England in the long-term but will at least demonstrate to the teenage star that the England setup is taking a close interest in his ongoing development.

Senior England boss Gareth Southgate was a recent visitor at Villa Park for United's Premier League win over Aston Villa. A few days earlier, he had spoken positively about Mainoo.

"I think he's doing brilliantly for a young player. He's had an excellent start for United," Southgate said. "I'm not certain he's necessarily going to be a defensive midfielder, as such. He's quite a progressive player, but he's had a fabulous start to his career and it will be good to monitor him."

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In early February, Randy Abbey, a member of the executive council at the Ghana FA had outlined his country's stance: "The Ghana Football Association is interested in monitoring, attracting, and persuading all eligible talents for its various national teams.

"Kobbie is definitely one of these incredible talents, and the association would love to work with him and many like him at home and abroad."

Under FIFA's international eligibility rules, switching allegiance is still allowed for a player who has only represented a particular country at junior level, someone who appeared in a maximum of three competitive senior games before turning 21, or an unlimited number of senior friendlies at any age.

In recent months, Southgate hasn't hesitated to hand opportunities to young players who are making an impact at big clubs, with Cole Palmer and Rico Lewis both given their respective senior debuts so far this season. That was also previously the case with Bukayo Saka, who has 32 England caps by the age of 22, and Jude Bellingham, who already has 27 and is still only 20 years of age.

If Mainoo continues to perform as he has done for a resurgent Manchester United, a late place in England's senior squad at Euro 2024 in summer, while unlikely, wouldn't be out of the question. A more plausible route might be inclusion for UEFA Nations League fixtures in September, with the first squad after a major tournament always ripe for introducing new players.

Just four competitive senior England appearances over the remainder of the calendar year would quickly take the Ghana option off the table permanently.


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