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Gareth Southgate must build England team around Kobbie Mainoo, says Arsenal hero



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Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has urged Gareth Southgate to build the England team around Manchester United star Kobbie Mainoo.

The Three Lions won in dramatic fashion against Slovakia in their Euro 2024 round-of-16 tie on Sunday evening.

Jude Bellingham scored an incredible bicycle kick to equalise with seconds remaining before Harry Kane netted the decisive goal in extra time.

Overall, it was another underwhelming display from Gareth Southgate’s men, barring one player in midfield.

Kobbie Mainoo was brought in for his first start of the tournament after impressing off the bench against Slovenia. The United midfielder was the best-performing England player until he was replaced by Eberechi Eze at 84 minutes.

Mainoo brings something that England do not have, and Jack Wilshere believes that the national team needs to be built around the teenager.

“Kobbie Mainoo has shown he is the player that England need to build their midfield ­- and their team – around,” Wilshere told The Sun.

“That’s what I felt as it looked like we were slipping to defeat. I know he was not on the pitch when our goals went in. 

“But until that unbelievable comeback, Mainoo was our best player.

“He has a fearlessness and an instinct to do the right things at the right times that seemed to be lacking for so much of the game.”

Gareth Southgate had opted for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Conor Gallagher in the middle before trusting the FA Cup final Man of the Match.

Speaking about the midfield dynamic between Declan Rice and Mainoo, Wilshere added: “Mainoo is the kind of midfielder England have been crying out for for a long time.

“He can be the glue that holds together this team for the rest of the tournament and well into the future.”

England will now face Switzerland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2024. The game will kick off at 17:00 BST on Saturday evening.

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