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England verdict: Jude Bellingham showed he is the real deal… and he could even keep his spot for the Poland clash


GARETH SOUTHGATE has known for a long time that he has something special in Jude Bellingham.

Now the rest of the world has seen that the 18-year-old boy from Brum is the real deal.


Bellingham showed off his fine footwork in a 62 minute cameo[/caption]

OK, so it is difficult to read too much into any game when the opposition are so out of their depth and lacking in ambition.

Yet starting a senior competitive international for the first time, Bellingham lit up Wembley with a dazzling display of midfield artistry. 

Poor old Andorra didn’t know what had hit them as the kid once courted by Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona went through his full repertoire.

The Group I whipping boys started off by getting tight on him but quickly realised that was a big mistake when he sent three defenders the wrong way with an outrageous piece of skill. 

So then they tried to stand off him. And that didn’t work out any better for them.

Bellingham was demanding the ball right from the first whistle and always seemed to be available to receive a pass.


One minute he was back on the edge of his own area popping the ball off and taking a whack on the ankle for his trouble.

The next he was up the other end of the pitch, cutting one back from the by-line to tee up Bukayo Saka for a glorious chance which was deflected just wide.

When Jesse Lingard fired England into an 18th minute lead, it was another Bellingham drag-back which had set England on their way.

He was on the go for the entire time he was on the pitch, gliding over the surface with an economy of movement which dragged his harassed opponents into areas where they really didn’t want to be.

No wonder Manchester United were so keen to sign him that they rolled out Fergie and Cantona to give the Birmingham City prodigy a guided tour of Carrington.

Yet even those Old Trafford legends couldn’t persuade Bellingham to turn down Borussia Dortmund when the German title contenders came in with a £25million bid last year.

So it was always going to be just a matter of time before the exciting young talent was promoted to the senior England squad by Southgate.

But though he started June’s friendly against Austria at Middlesbrough, he was used sparingly at the Euros as a second-half sub.

He thought he was going to get another cameo appearance in Budapest last week, but Southgate decided not to subject him to any further racism after he was abused by the Hungarian fans while warming up.

There was no holding him back this time, though, and now Southgate has some serious food for thought for the game against Poland on Wednesday.

Chances are Bellingham will not make the starting line-up as the manager reverts to his tried and trusted stars for what will probably be England’s toughest game of this World Cup qualifying campaign.

Yet it was still a surprise when he was hauled off after 60 minutes as England looked to convert their overwhelming possession into goals.

Maybe he is being saved for Warsaw after all. 

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