THE plan was for Jude Bellingham to play for the Under-21s in Slovenia — and they could certainly have done with him against the Swiss yesterday.
Instead, the 17-year-old from Birmingham became the country’s youngest-ever player to feature in a World Cup qualifier.
This unbelievably gifted midfielder, a half-time substitute for Mason Mount, will continue to keep the stats men busy over the years and maybe even at Euro 2020, a tournament he is now certain to feature in.
Until last month, Gareth Southgate had decided to send Borussia Dortmund’s £30million capture from Birmingham to the Under-21 Euros with Aidy Boothroyd.
Only some dynamite performances in the Champions League persuaded Southgate that, already, he is good enough.
Bellingham, who picked up his first cap against Ireland, certainly proved this at Wembley and he will soon be a regular in this team.
Although up against terrible opponents, Bellingham showed unbelievable quality and confidence.
His reading of the game coupled with an ability to glide with the ball is phenomenal.
This is why he has started 23 games for Dortmund.
He also tried a spectacular effort and, while it did not come off, Bellingham still had the confidence to try it. Alongside Phil Foden, he is England’s most-gifted player.
And while Southgate claims he already knows the starting XI for the Euro 2020 opener against Croatia, a few more slots are to be filled in the 23-man squad — although that depends more on injuries than the performances in any of these three World Cup qualifiers.
An easy win was never in doubt against the world’s worst team.
It was just a shame Callum Hudson-Odoi was with the Under-21s rather than the seniors.
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Then we would probably have had three players with double-barrelled surnames all score in the same international for England.
The population of San Marino is 33,000, meaning you could fit the entire population of the country into Wembley’s bottom tier and still have space for another 1,000.
So in many respects, to lose 5-0 is actually an achievement.
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