Gareth Southgate has dropped hint over Man City’s next England international
It’s always a good reflection on the success of a club that they have multiple international at all levels.
Manchester City had more players at the World Cup in 2022 than any other club, and were well-represented at the end of the season for the much-derided June internationals. Now, even though the senior season has finished, the under-21 European Championships are under way in Georgia and Romania, with six City players representing their countries.
One of them is England under-21 captain Taylor Harwood-Bellis, who has just helped Burnley get promotion to the Premier League under City legend Vincent Kompany. Clearly adept in the Championship, Harwood-Bellis will be hoping for Premier League football next season. Whether that is with City is still to be decided, although he would be sixth-choice at centre-back going off the current squad, and there could still be additions in the defensive ranks in the summer.
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Harwood-Bellis has a City contract until next summer, so unless he signs an extension, the club would want to cash in on a player whose stock has never been higher. He is a Championship promotion-winning centre-back, the England under-21 captain, and is still only 21. All of those factors would contribute to a decent asking price for the Stockport-born defender.
Or, if it suited all parties, could he leave on loan again to get the top flight experience that is surely next in his development? Whatever he does, he will also want to factor in his international prospects. His Euros campaign this summer will help those, but he will also be aware of comments from Gareth Southgate of the next generation of centre-backs available to England.
Discussing Harry Maguire’s lack of game time this season, Southgate said: “Harry’s shown great resilience and his performance level with us through the season has been very, very good. It’s been challenging for him, he’s captain of a huge, worldwide football club and he’s not been able to play so that would have been hard.
“We want competition for everybody, definitely. John Stones has had an outstanding season – probably since the World Cup to the end. It’s a reminder for all players who are having a difficult period because he was having one leading into the World Cup. So he’s finished strongly.
“We like Marc Guehi, we’ve invested in him. Him and Levi [Colwill] are probably the two youngest in the league. For England future that’s good. I am interested to see Harwood-Bellis in the Under 21s, to see what might happen with him next year.”
With Southgate watching, Harwood-Bellis’ next step is an important one for him, City and England. For now, though, he will only be focussed on England’s Euros group, with Israel up next on Sunday.