How England could line up with Kobbie Mainoo

England fans will soon be able to appreciate Kobbie Mainoo the way that Manchester United supporters have this season.

The 18-year-old has been promoted into the senior Three Lions squad for their March internationals and is in line to make his debut against either Brazil or Belgium.

Mainoo is a stellar talent and deserving of his place in the England setup, but how should he be used? Here are a few ways Gareth Southgate could deploy him.

In a double pivot

Declan Rice

Rice is now undroppable for England / Neal Simpson/Allstar/GettyImages

For United, Mainoo has almost exclusively played in a midfield two as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Considering Jude Bellingham’s success in the hole for Real Madrid, it wouldn’t be surprising if Southgate reverted to this system to get the best out of him. That would leave Mainoo to hold the fort, ideally alongside Arsenal’s Declan Rice.

On paper, this is the midfield that would provide England with the most balance and quality. You imagine we’ll see it at some point over the next week.

Potential lineups

Rice – Mainoo

Gallagher – Mainoo

Henderson – Mainoo

Holding in a 4-3-3

Jude Bellingham

Bellingham now plays higher up / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

We can’t rule out that Bellingham will be asked to play a little deeper for England as he did at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. What’s he like, that Southgate, eh?

Considering Rice’s proficiency crashing the box with Arsenal this season, Mainoo could be asked to man the space between defence and midfield alone. No pressure, lad.

Potential lineups

Mainoo – Rice – Bellingham

Mainoo – Gallagher – Bellingham

Mainoo – Gallagher – Rice

More advanced in a 4-3-3

Jordan Henderson

Yep, still knocking around / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

Is Kalvin Phillips the first player in the history of international football to have been dropped for actually featuring significantly more at club level?

On paper, Phillips is the perfect number six for this England team and played well at Euro 2020, but his alarming dip in form means Southgate must look for new solutions.

Jordan Henderson (somehow) is still getting selected, while Rice would be the natural fit for the position if Mainoo is afforded the freedom to play higher up.

Potential lineups

Rice – Mainoo – Bellingham

Henderson – Mainoo – Bellingham

Flanked by wing-backs

Ben Chilwell

Chilwell is back in the fold / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

Southgate does love to go three-at-the-back on occasion, just as a little treat. That 3-4-3 does look tasty with the right personnel.

For this set of internationals, England’s best options at wing-back – your Trent Alexander-Arnolds, your Reece James’, your Kieran Trippiers – but Kyle Walker and Ben Chilwell are still about.

Potential lineups

Walker – Rice – Mainoo – Chilwell

Walker – Rice – Mainoo – Bellingham – Chilwell

Source: 90mins

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