England v Republic of Ireland: Jude Bellingham could feature, says Gareth Southgate


Jude Bellingham in action for England in an Under-21 game with Turkey
Jude Bellingham joined Borussia Dortmund in the summer from Birmingham City in a deal that could eventually be worth over 30m
Date: 12 November Venue: Wembley Stadium Kick-off: 20:00 GMT Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Jude Bellingham could become the third-youngest player to represent England when they host the Republic of Ireland.

Boss Gareth Southgate refused to rule out the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, who will be 17 years 137 days old, featuring in Thursday’s friendly.

“If we can get him on the pitch and he gets some match minutes as well, that will be a bonus,” said Southgate.

The Walcott, aged 17 years 75 days, and Wayne Rooney – 17 years 111 days – are England’s two youngest players.

Former Birmingham City player Bellingham was promoted from the England Under-21s squad after Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold and Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse withdrew because of injury.

“The bigger picture here is at times we select older players to come in to challenge directly for places,” added Southgate at a news conference on Wednesday.

“In this instance we are giving a young player an opportunity to work with us, to spend some time with us, invest some time with him. He’ll have a brilliant experience for a few days.

“Whether he stay with us for the full week, we’ll decide after the game.”

England are playing the Republic of Ireland for the first time since June 2015. Thursday’s original opponents, New Zealand, withdrew from the fixture because of travel and player availability complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The past five meetings between the countries have ended in draws, while the Republic led England 1-0 in a friendly in Dublin in February 1995 when it was abandoned because of serious rioting.

Former Liverpool player Ray Houghton scored the only goal for the Republic the last time there was outright winner, at Euro 88 in Germany. Goalkeeper Darren Randolph, 33, is the only member of the Republic squad who was alive at the time.

England have not beaten the Republic of Ireland since March 1985, Trevor Steven and Gary Lineker scoring in a 2-1 friendly win at the old Wembley.

Stephen Kenny, who is yet to win in five matches in charge of the Republic, said: “England are in good form and we have played well at times.

“We are looking forward to going there and we want to perform well. The players are very committed.”

England play Belgium and Iceland in the Nations League on Sunday and next Wednesday respectively.

The Republic of Ireland are also using the England friendly as build-up to two important Nations League Group B4 games.

They are battling to avoid relegation to League C as they still wait to pick up their first win in this year’s competition.

The Republic face Wales in Cardiff on Sunday (17:00 GMT) before hosting Bulgaria in Dublin on 18 November (19:45) in their final group game which is likely to decide who stays up and who goes down.

West Brom forward Callum Robinson will miss all three games after testing positive for coronavirus.

Brighton forward Aaron Connolly is also out of the fixtures because of a hamstring injury.

Preston forward Sean Maguire has been called up as a replacement, while Swansea City’s Ryan Manning will also link up with Kenny’s squad before Sunday’s game against Wales.

“In Callum’s case, he came in and on the first test he’s tested positive,” added Kenny. “He wasn’t feeling unwell, so it’s just unfortunate for him.

“We’re disappointed but you’ve got to deal with whatever comes your way.”

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