Gary Neville ‘certain’ Man Utd man will start for England in Euro 2024 last 16

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Gary Neville has backed both Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton to step into England’s midfield for their Euro 2024 round of 16 fixture.

The Three Lions will play their first knockout round in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday after topping Group C, with their most likely opponent the Netherlands — although they won’t find out for sure until Wednesday.

But that’s in spite of some terrible performances in the group stage, only managing a 1-0 win over Serbia in their opening match before playing out 1-1 and 0-0 draws against Denmark and Slovenia, respectively.

One of the key problem areas for Gareth Southgate has been in midfield, with Trent Alexander-Arnold starting alongside Declan Rice in the first two matches but substituted in both.

Conor Gallagher started ahead of Alexander-Arnold in the goalless stalemate with Slovenia but lasted just 45 minutes, replaced at half-time by Manchester United talent Kobbie Mainoo.

Gary Neville ‘certain’ Kobbie Mainoo will start for England

England certainly looked improved following the introduction of Mainoo, who completed 33 of his 34 attempted passes — including three into the final third — while he had two touches in the opposition box and made four recoveries.

Former Man Utd captain Neville — who is working as a pundit at the tournament for ITV — believes Mainoo has done enough to earn a start on Sunday, while also backing Crystal Palace midfielder Adam Wharton to improve the Three Lions, despite not seeing a minute on the pitch at the tournament yet.

“I’m certain that Kobbie Mainoo will start in the next game,” Neville said (via BBC Sport). “He thought that Conor Gallagher might be an option because of his energy but we need someone in there that can get us playing and Mainoo does that.

“Adam Wharton could do that too.

“We looked so basic in the first half. It was a struggle to watch but it moved forward a lot in the second half even though we didn’t get the result but there was glimpses of what we can be.”

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