Even the most pessimistic England fan would have a hard time pretending he wasn’t even a a little bit excited about the Three Lions’ chances for the delayed European Championships this summer.
With world-class forward Harry Kane leading the line and creative sparks like Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount at Gareth Southgate’s disposal, Euro 2020 arguably represents England’s best chance of success in a major tournament since the so-called golden generation.
However, despite all the offensive flair at Southgate’s fingertips, there are a number of areas of the squad that look extremely worn out, and their central midfielder unmistakably falls into that category.
England have long claimed a quality central midfielder, with heir to Steven Gerrard’s throne Jack Wilshere failing to live up to the hype that surrounded him as a youngster. Meanwhile, a host of other midfielders have tried and failed to consolidate their pivotal place in England’s engine room.
As Southgate announced his side will face San Marino, Albania and Poland in the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers, one of the headlines of the announcement has been the inclusion of Jude Bellingham.
The Borussia Dortmund man already has a senior international squad to his name after winning his Three Lions debut against the Republic of Ireland last year, and Southgate clearly wants to give the youngster another senior opportunity.
Dortmund initially refused to allow the 17-year-old to meet with his international colleagues amid growing fears that he would be forced to quarantine him for 14 days upon his return. However, it looks like the two sides have now come to an agreement and Bellingham will play a role in the upcoming clashes.
The youngster’s main competition for a place in the starting XI will likely come from Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse and Kalvin Phillips, but if England really have big ambitions of reaching the final stages of Euro 2020, they need Bellingham to show his quality over the next few weeks.
For too long England have fielded central midfielders that offer little more than solid passing statistics and impressive challenge. Players like Eric Dier and Fabian Delph have essentially acted as placeholders in the middle of the pitch as England wait for a player to emerge who can move the team forward.
Bellingham can be that man. The young midfielder has already proven he has the physical qualities to be able to face a league like the Championship which represented Birmingham City last season, as his debut campaign at Dortmund has only seen him develop. as a player and he clearly has the drive. and the ability to cut him off as a central midfielder at the highest level.
Not only is he already good enough to play internationally, but he will only get better, and the sooner England signal their intentions to build their squad around the talented 17-year-old the better.
The upcoming World Cup qualifiers are going to be a huge test for Bellingham and Southgate. First and foremost, the England boss needs to give the youngster a chance to prove he’s the man to move the team forward, instead of once again staying with the same old players and offering to Bellingham of the ten minute cameo roles from the bench so he can tick off. the box “Give young people a chance”.
If Bellingham has this opportunity, it is up to him to seize it and prove that he can be his country’s catalyst for future success.
England can’t expect to field middle midfielders and expect stellar talents like Grealish and Kane to be good enough to see them triumph over some of the best teams in the world.
To become a big winner of international tournaments, there can be no weak link in the squad, and England currently have a huge weak point in the central midfield.
If Bellingham has their chance over the next few weeks and catches it with both hands, then England could have a player of their own that they know they can build their squad on and who can help them taste again to the success of major international tournaments. .