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Jude Bellingham is the best English talent since Wayne Rooney and Ivory Coast’s performance will pose a dilemma for Gareth Southgate

It’s hard to believe that Jude Bellingham is still only 18 years old.

Because the Dortmund midfielder is already making the show internationally and proves that he will be an English superstar well beyond this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.

Jude Bellingham has shown he needs to be an automatic starter for England at the World Cup

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Jude Bellingham has shown he needs to be an automatic starter for England at the World CupPhoto credit: Getty

In fact, there’s a good chance he could still be the country’s most important man in 2030 if he can maintain his current extraordinary pace of progress.

And any doubts Gareth Southgate might have about Bellingham’s readiness for a starting role in his team will surely be dispelled after that five-star show at Wembley.

The question now must be who the England manager will leave out to accommodate the teenager’s presence in the future.

Because we haven’t had bright talent like this since Wayne Rooney first burst onto the international stage all those years ago.

The poor old Ivorians certainly didn’t know if they were coming or going when Bellingham ragged them last night.

His first senior international goal was kept within the width of the post when his shot was deflected off the leg by goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare in the 15th minute.

And he was convinced he had awarded his team a penalty early in the second half when it flew into the penalty area.

Referee Erik Lambrechts was equally certain that a foul had been committed until the pitch-side television monitor showed Fousseny Coulibaly just toe-toeing the ball before it slammed into Bellingham.

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But nothing would spoil the boy’s big night as he covered every blade of Wembley turf to keep England’s winning streak going.

That task was certainly made easier when the visitors were reduced to ten men by the mindless Serge Aurier, who received his second yellow card of the night.

But even before Aurier’s untimely departure, Bellingham had been pulling the strings on the left flank of England’s three-man midfield.

His association with Jack Grealish was a constant source of encouragement for Southgate, who would certainly have preferred to see his team play the full 90 minutes against a range of opponents.

And nothing the England manager saw from Bellingham last night would have come as any surprise.

SPECIAL

Because he’s known for years that this kid is special and it’s always been a question of when, not if, Bellingham will be let off the leash.

His precise control, passing range, vision and tireless run are top-notch.

And he made it clear that he would not be intimidated by the Ivorians’ industrial approach as they flew into the duel with malicious intent.

On a few occasions he faced his attackers and had to be dragged away by team-mates before getting into trouble with the picky Belgian referee.

But there’s nothing wrong with a little prickliness, as long as it’s kept under control and his Dortmund coach Marco Rose has even encouraged his young prodigy not to let anyone show it.

Rose is even more delighted by Bellingham’s declaration that he has no intention of leaving Dortmund this summer, even though any club in the Premier League would kill for his signature.

Luckily for Southgate, he doesn’t have to worry about where Bellingham will ply his trade next season.

Because whoever he’s playing for, he’s definitely going to be on that plane to Qatar.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5006964/jude-bellingham-england-world-cup-gareth-southgate-decision/ Jude Bellingham is the best English talent since Wayne Rooney and Ivory Coast’s performance will pose a dilemma for Gareth Southgate

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