England have announced that Jude Bellingham will join up with the senior national team during this international break.
Bellingham, 17, wasn’t initially involved in the squad but after Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse pulled out through injury manager Gareth Southgate has opted to draft in the youngster.
After joining Borussia Dortmund in the summer, Bellingham has featured fairly regularly for the Bundesliga side this season. He has featured in five league games as well as all three Champions League games grabbing an assist in both competitions. He also scored his only goal of the season so far in the DFB Pokal Cup.
The decision to pull him from the Under-21’s squad and place him in the senior side sparked a lot of debate on social media. Some believe that it’s a good decision, with his obvious talent lacking in the senior side anyway. Others believe that the move is too early and unnecessary, with more senior players more deserving of a spot in the squad.
So which is true? The reality is it’s both.
Having completed 90 minutes just once this season for Dortmund, Bellingham wasn’t even under consideration for the senior squad. He was called up to Under-21’s and was expected to feature prevalently during their qualifiers during this break. Instead, he’ll now likely play a handful of minutes at most.
At 17 years old, he is already playing way above his age bracket. Regular minutes at a top side in European football, with Champions League football is already a huge jump up from where a regular 17 year old would be playing their football.
Pushing him into the senior side doesn’t really do anything either. He likely won’t play much and therefore will lose out on development time. We’ve also seen in recent weeks that the media have no problem with making a young player a target in the press.
Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were the latest targets, with Greenwood left out of this squad as Manchester United want to protect him from the limelight.
On the other hand Bellingham will be around older players who are better and more developed than him to help him progress more. He will see how the senior squad do things and will get to start building a relationship with Southgate.
It gives him a chance to make an impression on the management team and the senior players and stake his claim for a position in the squad for Euro 2020 next summer.
While players such as Ross Barkley and James Maddison will feel a way about being overlooked despite the injuries, if they continue to perform to the standard they have been so far this season then Southgate will surely want to take another look at them before he has to make a final decision on his squad.
If Bellingham struggles at the higher level, there’s nothing to prevent him going back down to the Under-21’s in the future too. At the end of the day, he’s been called up because of several players ahead of him in the pecking order being unavailable and Southgate’s policy of replacing them with players in the youth setup rather than elsewhere.
Wherever you stand on the matter, it will no doubt be interesting to see such a talented young player playing at the highest level.