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Kobbie Mainoo proves Gary Neville right in England draw with Belgium | Football | Sport

A brace from Aston Villa’s Youri Tielemans looked set to condemn England to a second successive defeat at Wembley after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Brazil. But Jude Bellingham produced a 95th-minute equaliser to thwart the Belgians.

Mainoo came off the bench for 20 minutes to make his debut against the South Americans last week. And he was handed his first senior start by Gareth Southgate against Belgium despite the player having never even represented the under-21s before, so rapid his rise has been.

Mainoo impressed both in and out of possession in his 74 minutes on the pitch. The 18-year-old was involved in all of England’s best moments and followed up on his excellent form for United with a mature display.

And one man who will be particularly pleased with Mainoo’s showing will be ex-Red Devils and England defender Neville. The Sky Sports pundit has waxed lyrical about the United academy graduate and his suggestion Mainoo has “the world at his feet” looks more astute by the day.

Neville said in February: “He’s a fantastic player. To come into Manchester United’s team at any time is really difficult and he’s come in at one of the most difficult times in the club’s recent history and he’s just stood out as someone whose temperament and composure is off the scale.

“It looks like he’s got the world at his feet for the next 10 years. He’s got 15 years left, Kobbie Mainoo, and he’s got to keep his feet on the ground, but it looks like he’s got all the attributes that you would need to be a top player.”

Neville added even more recently: “He is a bright light. I always think of his first three big games: away at Goodison Park, St James’ Park and Anfield and he handled those really well.

“Him and Casemiro are better together; the results have picked up. I always think he stands up when Manchester United are struggling in games and takes the ball and looks the most composed on the pitch.”

And Mainoo’s performance against Belgium will have done plenty for his hopes of going to the Euros in Germany this summer. It has been suggested he could even be a starting midfielder alongside Declan Rice and Bellingham.

Mainoo said: “I think that’s the end goal for the season, to get into that squad. Obviously I’ve got to focus on club football in the meantime, and hopefully that’ll figure itself out.

“I had to adapt quickly to the Premier League. Obviously, it’s very demanding physically, and also mentally, so it’s been tough. But I feel like I’ve found my feet a bit now and I’m enjoying it.

“The games have been coming so fast at United but now I’m here [with England], obviously I am taking it all in and it’s been amazing.”

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