England manager Gareth Southgate shares his thoughts on Kobbie Mainoo

Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo.

REUTERS/Phil Noble

Manchester United have so far endured a tough second season under Erik ten Hag, with the Dutch coach failing to get the best out of  many stars.

Such is United’s form this term that not many see them as favourites for Sunday’s FA Cup clash against Liverpool at home.

Considering how the side performed against Manchester City early this month, many fans would be relieved to see the Red Devils avoid another humbling, let alone knock Jurgen Klopp’s men out of the competition.

Heading into the game, only a few United players could be relied upon to step up against a side like Liverpool. Kobbie Mainoo, who’s only 18, is one of those stars.

The United academy product has enjoyed a promising spell under Ten Hag, having impressed with his composure in possession and excellent positional awareness in defensive situations. He was the standout midfielder in his side’s goalless draw at Liverpool in December.

Mainoo is effectively now among the first names on the team sheet at United. However, it seems, he still needs to do more to get into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

The technically proficient midfielder has not been called up by Southgate for this month’s friendlies against Brazil and Belgium. Explaining his decision, the England manager said:

“I think that he’s doing brilliantly for a young player and we’re never slow to put a young player into seniors. But he’s only had a handful of games and you have to be very careful development-wise in making those decisions at the right time.”

Instead, Mainoo, who has made 19 first-team appearances under Ten Hag, has been promoted to England U21 squad for their U21 Euro 2025 qualifiers.