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Borussia Dortmund

Gareth Southgate indicates Jude Bellingham plans for Euro 2020 amid injury concerns

Jude Bellingham has got the swagger of a player who loves the big stage.

Bellingham is the prodigious midfield talent who, even at 17, will not look out of place among the established stars at the Euros this summer.

After all, Bellingham has been bossing games in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund all season and playing for England just looks a natural progression.

There is always a player who emerges late, comes through the previous season and shines just like Paul Gascoigne did in the build-up to Italia 90 or Raheem Sterling’s emergence in the 2014 World Cup.

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This time, it could be Bellingham because, with England facing injury issues in midfield, Gareth Southgate insists that he would have no fears about starting him in the first game against Croatia on June 13.

Jude Bellingham could play a key role in England's side at Euro 2020
Jude Bellingham could play a key role in England’s side at Euro 2020

Jordan Henderson is the natural partner alongside Declan Rice but, with the Liverpool captain struggling for match fitness and to be ready, there is an opening for another midfielder.

And Bellingham’s maturity, vision and composure just makes him stand out from the crowd as he has the natural talent to be in England’s line-up for the next decade and has all of the box-to-box energy to be the next Steven Gerrard.

He glides across the pitch, has energy but even greater vision with his passing and all the attributes to be England’s standout star of this generation.

Strikingly, Bellingham did not look in the least bit nervous before his first England start – the youngest player to start for his country since Wayne Rooney in 2003 – against Austria.

Instead, Bellingham looked proud, his chest bursting with pride as he waved to his family in the crowd which just underlined his fearless nature while other debutants might have found their legs had turned to jelly.

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There is no doubt in Southgate’s mind about Bellingham’s ability and maturity as he has no fears about starting him straight from the first game against Croatia on June 13.

“The best way to answer that is to say he is not just here for the experience although he’s a 17 year old player,” said Southgate.

“You’ve seen what he is capable of, we’ve seen that not only in the Bundesliga matches for Borussia Dortmund but especially the Champions League matches where he had to respond well to that challenge.

“He really competes well and he probably runs more than he needs to at the moment and that’s normal for all young players but we couldn’t be happier.

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“The whole group respect him, he has great humility around the camp but he plays with – and I don’t want to say a lack of respect because he has a huge respect for everybody here – but he doesn’t respect them in training.

“He competes with them like he’s been with them from day one which is a great mentality to have.”

England now have a tradition, brought in under Southgate, where every player is given a commemorative shirt before their first start, a legend does the presenting and makes a little speech to welcome them in.

Bellingham had already made his senior debut of course but it was his first start against Austria on Thursday night and, even though it could be Henderson he is replacing, the Liverpool captain and England vice-captain said nice words before the game.

Southgate added: “It was a really nice moment when Jordan Henderson presented him with his shirt before the game because that was his first start and Hendo spoke a little bit about him, he played with a great maturity.”

Should Bellingham start for England at Euro 2020? Let us know your starting XI below.

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