Published On: Tue, Mar 26th, 2024
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Man Utd may soon unleash another Kobbie Mainoo already training under Erik ten Hag | Football | Sport

Kobbie Mainoo could be in line for his first England start in tonight’s friendly against Belgium at Wembley Stadium, three days after earning his maiden cap in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Brazil. Manchester United have profited from their thriving academy set-up once again this season and could soon spawn yet another top-level midfielder.

Mainoo started training with Erik ten Hag’s first-team squad last term and was handed his debut against Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup in January 2023.

His increased role in pre-season last summer made it clear that Ten Hag had big plans for the 18-year-old, but not many would have predicted how quickly he has established himself.

Mainoo has made 20 appearances since his first appearance of the campaign in November, following an injury setback that delayed his breakthrough. He has started United’s last 12 Premier League games.

Gareth Southgate’s sudden decision to bring him into the England senior squad from his U21 call-up spoke volumes of how much he impressed in the Red Devils’ 4-3 FA Cup win against Liverpool.

He earned plaudits against Brazil, and another eye-catching display against Belgium would leave Mainoo well-placed for a spot in this summer’s Euro 2024 squad.

United suddenly have a star midfielder at their disposal, and the Carrington youth conveyor belt may be in the process of producing another in the next couple of years.

The capture of Jack and Tyler Fletcher – Darren Fletcher’s twin sons – from Manchester City in August was viewed as a significant coup.

Both had spent nine years in City’s academy before switching allegiances for a combined £1.25million fee. Jack, in particular, is quietly showing signs of another trajectory towards first-team stardom.

He turned 17 earlier this month but has already been summoned to senior training by Ten Hag on more than one occasion.

Fletcher has produced several incredible performances for United’s table-topping U18s side this term before his progress was halted by injury.

The England U17 international is nearing a return, though, when the ever-loudening footsteps towards the door to first-team football will resume.

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