Gareth Southgate explains Jude Bellingham’s deeper position for England

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England manager Gareth Southgate chose to utilise Jude Bellingham in a more conventional midfield role during Saturday’s draw with Ukraine in Euro 2024 qualifying, rather than continue the advanced ‘number 10’ role that has seen the 20-year-old enjoy a prolific start at Real Madrid.

Bellingham has found the net five times in four La Liga games for Madrid since his high profile June arrival, leading the Pichichi Trophy for the league’s top scorer at this early stage and equalling the start that Cristiano Ronaldo made to his glittering spell at the club in 2009.

Southgate has been unsurprisingly impressed by what he has seen from Bellingham, who has been lining up just behind a front two in Carlo Ancelotti’s system in Spain.

Despite wearing the number 10 on his back, he didn’t get that role with England in what was a cumbersome performance from the Three Lions. Chasing the win after Kyle Walker had equalised in the first half, Bellingham then ended being taken off with 25 minutes, plus stoppage time, to go.

Speaking ahead of the game, Southgate had already hinted that he wouldn’t use Bellingham in the same way as Madrid do.

“He has had to show a slightly different side because he has played a little higher with [Madrid] losing [Karim] Benzema and his game is suited to forward running and arriving in the box. The nice thing from our point of view is that he is scoring more goals which is great,” the boss had said.

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Ultimately, his attacking impact was restricted, while fans were equally frustrated when it was Bellingham and not Jordan Henderson who made way for Marcus Rashford.

Overall, Southgate remains confident over the England role Bellingham will have long-term.

“He has a huge maturity and good emotional intelligence,” the manager explained.

“He has had to go into a dressing room and an interesting dynamic with some world class players he is there to ultimately take their place. He will have approached them off the pitch with huge respect and will have gone into the training sessions and the games ready to compete and show what a good player he is. He found that balance brilliantly when he first joined us and I have no doubt that is what has happened while he has been [at Madrid].”

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