ENGLAND TO HAND JUDE BELLINGHAM DEBUT TONIGHT
England national team manager Gareth Southgate has given Borussia Dortmund's prolific starlet Jude Bellingham the green light to make his first senior cap tonight against Ireland.
The 17-year-old youngster has been in fine form for the German Club since making a switch from Birmingham City in the summer and has been rewarded for his stirrings of sublime performances for the Bundesliga outfit with a well-deserved first England call-up earlier this week.
“My initial conversation with him was that you'll have a few days with us, we'll involve you in the game," the England boss explained in preparation for his side's clash against Ireland this evening. "We'll see how it goes, and that's going to be a brilliant experience for him.
“It’s always interesting to see the reaction when we select a player, because people are immediately talking about other players without understanding why we’ve called Jude up.”
Bellingham's invitation meant that neither Ross Barkley (Aston Villa) nor James Maddison (Leicester City) made it to the squad, a decision Southgate proceeded to explain.
“It’s not a decision that he’s a better player than one or two older players who I’ve seen mentioned, although those players don’t play in the position that he plays. And that’s a fact. We could flippantly say, ‘Well, he’s playing for a massive club and he’s playing Champions League football’, but there’s actually a bit more to it than that. The bigger picture here is a great opportunity to bring another young player with us that is going to benefit England for the long-term."
Bellingham will be looking to put in a fantastic performance tonight in a bid to repay the faith put in him by Southgate. The young midfielder has appeared 15 times in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund this season, scoring two goals and assisting a further two in the process.