Manchester United midfield player Kobbie Mainoo is planning to keep his international options open until later this year despite growing interest from Gareth Southgate. 

The England manager watched Mainoo’s 10th successive Premier League start for United in their 2-1 win at Aston Villa last week, but the 18-year-old is also eligible for Ghana and in no rush to make a decision.

Mainoo will accept any call-up he is offered by England having already represented them at under 16, under 18 and under 19 level, but has no immediate plans to make a definitive decision on his international career. 

The Stockport-born midfield player qualifies for Ghana through his parents, with Ghana FA Board member, Randy Abbey, telling The Times last week that they are hopeful of persuading Mainoo to switch his allegiance to the Black Stars.

Mainoo is expected to defer his decision until he is confident of breaking into the senior England squad on a regular basis, which despite his impressive performances for United is not likely to be until the autumn at the earliest.

Southgate has previously shown a willingness to fast-track talented young players with dual nationality into his senior squad, with Mason Greenwood given his first cap at the age of 18 for example, but this approach is not practical with Mainoo in the short term as England do not have any competitive matches other than the European Championship until September.

Randy Abbey,Ghana FA Board member.

The English FA is confident of retaining Mainoo’s services, but have not been given any guarantees. Under FIFA eligibility rules a player can change their nationality at any time if they have only played in friendlies, while those aged under-21 can also switch after three years if they have played fewer than three competitive matches.

Mainoo will not make a formal decision until he is in contention for competitive senior caps, which given the proximity of the European Championship is not expected to be until the autumn at the earliest. 

England have friendlies against Brazil and Belgium next month, and warm-up games against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland in June, before beginning their next UEFA Nations League campaign with matches against Republic of Ireland and Finland in September.

While Mainoo has impressed in a defensive midfield role for United Southgate is convinced he will develop into a box-to-box attacking player, putting him in the same bracket as Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden rather than Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips. 

Given his impressive performances in recent months however, a first call-up for the under-21 squad next month for their European Championship qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg is a distinct possibility.