‘Complete midfielder’ Jude Bellingham ‘ready’ for England debut insists Pep Clotet, who handed him Birmingham debut aged 16
Jude Bellingham is ready to make the step up to international football according to the manager who gave him his debut for Birmingham City last season.
Pep Clotet threw a then 16-year-old Bellingham into Championship action and he excelled with the Blues.
His top-class performances earned the teenager a move to Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund over the summer, in a deal worth move than £30million, and he’s already made an impact in Germany.
Bellingham, now 17, was promoted to the England senior squad for the upcoming internationals following the injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse.
Clotet has admitted he’s delighted the midfielder could get his chance on the international stage.
He told White and Jordan on talkSPORT: “I was very, very happy because I actually think he deserves it.
“I think it’s very good for the upcoming young English talent because the FA and all football in England is doing a very good job.
“I think that Jude achieved what he achieved last season, and now he’s made it into the Bundesliga and into the national team and it is wonderful for everyone.
“Gareth Southgate may have the same feeling I had last season; he might be feeling that he’s expressing himself well in training and he’s at that level.
“I applaud [Southgate] because he’s a manager who showed the future of the game is in the future of young talents coming in if they are at the level.
“England have done a superb job in all the levels in the youth, and there are a lot of players and Jude is possibly the tip of the iceberg.
“I’m sure he’s ready and will show it. He’s played in the Champions League, he’s played more than 40 games in the Championship last season. I have no doubts about him.”
Clotet insisted he had no hesitation in blooding a young Bellingham last season and despite his age he was more than ready for the first team.
He continued: “He was training with us before and Garry (Monk) was never really pushy about it but I could see the talent he had.
“In training, he was expressing himself more and more. When it came for pre-season and he established himself in the squad in training and friendly games and I thought, ‘you know what… we have a player here’.
“He was never nervous and always trying to work hard for the team, and he expressed himself in ways that are not common for players of his age.
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“I thought we would try him in the EFL Cup and we would see how he feels. After that, I thought he was clearly ready.
“I’ve always worked with young players and given them opportunities; there’s nothing more satisfying for a manager, and for the fans and player themselves.
“You don’t really pick the time but they come to the moment themselves in progression where they push themselves into the team.
“I thought it would never be wrong because it had to happen as his talent was there, and he was able to express himself with the professionals.
“He found himself very comfortable when he came on against Stoke early last season and he scored the winner. I just thought he’d made it.”
Clotet was also asked about Bellingham’s best attributes and said it was hard to choose just one thing.
He added: “I always say the same thing that he is a very complete player. It’s very difficult to highlight something he’s very good at because he’s actually an eight or nine out of ten on almost everything around the game.
“He’s very focused defensively and has a lot of power. He’s very focused offensively, doesn’t lose many balls and is good on the one-vs-one. He has a very good skill level with both feet and is aware of what happens around him.
“He knows when to play safe, when to risk and when to attack. He has goals in him as well.
“You can play him in different positions because he feels comfortable in all of them.
“That’s why he’s a very complete midfielder – possibly an offensive midfielder – but he can do as well anywhere.”
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