Zimbabwe are set to miss out on Arsenal starlet Reiss Nelson, whose exploits at Hoffenheim have impressed England coach Gareth Southgate.
By Sports Reporter/ Evening Standard
Nelson, who was born in London to a Zimbabwean father and British mother, was widely expected to be named in the England football squad for the upcoming fixtures against the United States and Croatia, but he was surprisingly left out.
The 18-year-old sensation, who signed a new contract with Arsenal in August before agreeing a season-long loan move to Germany, has scored five goals in six Bundesliga appearances, while also featuring in three Champions League games.
Warriors’ manager Wellington Mpandare has long expressed interest in bringing the young forward to play for Zimbabwe.
However, the teenager is close to an England senior team call-up judging by Southgate’s comments on the player.
“We really like Reiss,” Southgate told Evening Standard Sport.
“He came and trained with us in September. He is doing okay with Hoffenheim and we think that he and some other players in the Under-21s have got big futures. He always impressed me in the match time he got at Arsenal, he always had a really good impact whenever he played.
“I always liked his personality on the field and he is one of a number of attacking players who will push for places in the coming years, but he is not the only one and it is important we keep pushing him.
“I don’t want him to be thinking that he has just got to roll up and he’s the next one, because there is really good competition for places.”
Southgate is believed to have been closely monitoring Nelson’s performances in Germany.
Southgate last month handed a debut to Jadon Sancho — who also ventured overseas in search of first-team football, leaving Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund — while also calling up uncapped duo Mason Mount and James Maddison.
Nelson is set to continue with Aidy Boothroyd’s Under-21s and, while Southgate lauded the midfielder’s potential, he cited a raft of other names he is competing with.