England teen ‘relishing’ Euro 2024 opportunity as reports suggest Man Utd man will start v Slovakia

News Desk
Kobbie Mainoo replaces Jude Bellingham for England
Kobbie Mainoo replaces Jude Bellingham for England

Kobbie Mainoo says he is ready to shine for England against Slovakia if Gareth Southgate starts him in the Three Lions’ Euro 2024 last-16 clash with Slovakia.

The Manchester United midfielder caught the eye after coming off the bench at half-time in the goalless draw with Slovenia last week – a result which was enough to see England top Group C.

With Trent Alexander-Arnold and Conor Gallagher having already started alongside Declan Rice in the middle of the pitch at the Euros, Mainoo looks set to become the third player given the chance to form a partnership with the Arsenal man.

The 19-year-old enjoyed a fine breakthrough season at Old Trafford, culminating in what proved to be the decisive goal in the FA Cup final win over Manchester City.

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Starting a knockout game for England, though, will be another rung on the ladder for Mainoo.

“Yes, probably,” he replied when asked if the Slovakia game would be the biggest of his career.

“Do I relish it? Yes, that is what you play football for, the big occasions. You don’t win anything big unless you play in the big occasions.

“I feel I want to be a great player and great players are made in those big occasions so I have to do my best whenever they come about.

“Whenever I get a chance to play I try and give it 100 per cent every time, that is what my dad always said to me, my parents always said to grab a chance with both hands.”

Mainoo describes his ascension from his full Premier League debut last November to becoming a member of the England squad in Germany this summer as “unbelievable”.

He shone in that game, United’s 3-0 win at Everton, and approached that occasion in the same manner he will if he gets the nod in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday evening.

“I was just telling myself ‘I have to make an impact on the game’. I couldn’t let the game pass me by, I had to take the game, take the ball and play my game,” he told ITV Sport.

“I’ve worked hard this season and with the club I’ve been trying my hardest to contribute to the team and luckily, in the end, I did enough.

“I think my place in the team is to get on the ball to link play, try and create things for the attackers and create opportunities for the team.”

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