Kobbie Mainoo set to start for England in Euro 2024 last 16

  • Gareth Southgate expected to reshuffle England midfield
  • Kobbie set to start against Slovakia on Sunday evening
  • Man Utd youngster impressed as a sub against Slovenia
Kobbie Mainoo's patience has been rewarded
Kobbie Mainoo's patience has been rewarded / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Manchester United youngster Kobbie Mainoo is expected to start for England in Sunday evening's Euro 2024 last 16 clash with Slovakia.

Gareth Southgate has resisted any major tweaking since the tournament began, despite laboured performances against Serbia and Denmark in England's opening two games. His only change for the 0-0 draw with Slovenia was Conor Gallagher replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield.

England were lacklustre at best in that stalemate, but Mainoo managed to impress and raise the bar in the second half after emerging from the bench in place of Gallagher at the break. The 19-year-old had previously been sent on for the final few minutes in the narrow win over Serbia.

With England struggling for identity, the Daily Telegraph has reported that Mainoo is now in line to keep that place from the start for the Slovakia game in Gelsenkirchen.

Kobbie Mainoo
Mainoo was brought on at half-time against Slovenia / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Despite missing training on Thursday, Declan Rice is not considered a doubt for the game and Mainoo should partner the Arsenal man in midfield, with Jude Bellingham slightly ahead. He will arguably provide the necessary balance and linkage that Alexander-Arnold and Gallagher couldn't.

Mainoo has shown throughout the last few months that he isn't fazed by big occasions and starting for England at a major tournament would be just the latest achievement in his fledgling career.

His rise has been meteoric, only breaking through as a regular starter for Manchester United in November but showcasing an abundance of maturity beyond his tender years from the word go. The Stockport-born youngster later put in a stunning performance in the FA Cup final at Wembley, scoring the winning goal and landing the Player of the Match accolade.

After coming off the bench for England against Slovenia, his majestic first-time flick into Harry Kane's path after taking up a smart position between the lines was the most incisive bit of play from Gareth Southgate's side up to that point. Sadly, Cole Palmer couldn't then apply the finish.