Kobbie Mainoo eyes Euro 2024 spot as whirlwind start to senior career continues

Kobbie Mainoo says a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad is the end goal after the Manchester United teenager’s whirlwind rise continued with a first senior call-up.

Long considered a future Old Trafford star, the 18-year-old midfielder has established himself as key part of Erik ten Hag’s side since returning from an ankle ligament injury sustained in pre-season.

Mainoo produced a man-of-the-match display as he made his first Premier League start against Everton in November and received his maiden England call-up just 114 days later.

Initially named in the under-21s set-up, he was promoted to the senior squad for the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium fresh from United’s jaw-dropping 4-3 FA Cup quarter-final win against Liverpool.

“It’s been a pretty mad couple of days,” Mainoo told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Sunday obviously was a great game and a great win, then to get called up to the under-21s obviously I was excited to come.

“Then getting down here and realising that I was with the first team was amazing.

“I was shocked and happy and it’s been a whirlwind of emotions.”

Mainoo was told he would be going up to the senior side for training, but assumed they just needed a player for the session until he spoke to Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland.

The Stockport-born midfielder’s family were “buzzing” when he called to tell them good the news as his ascent continues apace.

“The games have been coming so fast at United I’ve not really had the time to think about it,” he said of the potential of a senior England call-up. “I have not really thought about it too much.

“Obviously I knew the international break was coming up, so thought about it a bit but, still, we had so many big games that I couldn’t really take my eye off the ball.

“But now I’m here, obviously I am taking it all in and it’s been amazing.”

Mainoo says his goal for the March meet-up are straightforward, saying “good training camp and two wins”.

Making his England debut is the personal goal on top of that as he tries to prove to Southgate that he is worthy of a place on the plane to Germany.

“Yeah, I think that’s the end goal for the season, to get into that squad,” Mainoo said.

“But obviously I’ve got to focus on club football in the meantime, and hopefully that’ll figure itself out.”

Mainoo is not the first teenage talent to get a shot under Southgate, with Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka quickly cementing themselves as England regulars.

Asked if he aspires to that, he told talkSPORT: “Yeah, definitely. To follow in the footsteps of them, they’ve been amazing. They’ve come up and stayed up so quickly and they’re both great players.”

Mainoo is excited for this “amazing opportunity” with England and spoke with pride of his Ghanaian heritage through his parents.

The 18-year-old credits them for his shaping his character – “we always push good manners and whatnot,” he said – and a pair of United team-mates for helping him develop on the pitch.

“I’d say maybe Casemiro or Bruno (have been the biggest influences),” he said. “Playing in midfield with them two has definitely helped me a lot.

“They have so much experience, they are great players and had great careers, so to pick up things from them is the best.”

Mainoo’s drive to improve is as clear as his love for the game.

The 18-year-old said he admires Ronaldinho for the way he always played with freedom and a smile, with the boyhood United fan also naming a club great that retired eight years before he was born in 2005 as one of his heroes.

“I’d say (Wayne) Rooney, Paul Scholes as well,” he said. “And King Eric (Cantona). It was a bit before my time, but I still appreciate it.”

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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