Morgan Gibbs-White is relishing the limelight with Gareth Southgate keeping tabs on him amid strong performances for Nottingham Forest as the midfielder gets set to captain England’s Under-21s against France
- The 23-year-old is relishing the limelight amid strong performances for his club
- Morgan Gibbs-White been one of the standout players for Nottingham Forest
- England’s under-21 side sat down to watch the seniors’ side beat Italy in Naples
Inside the St George’s Park hotel on Thursday night, the impressionable Under 21s were watching England create history.
They always sit together for the seniors’ matches when the schedule allows, the subliminal message being that reaching that group is eminently attainable.
Some are closer to that goal than others. Some have another Under-21 cycle ahead of them after this summer’s Euros, others are coming to an end. Morgan Gibbs-White is 23 now, born within 27 days of the cut-off for this campaign, but there is a growing feeling that senior recognition is close.
He will captain Lee Carsley’s side against France in Leicester on Saturday and these are key moments to impress Gareth Southgate, who namechecked him earlier this week. Assistant Steve Holland has already travelled to observe Nottingham Forest training and Gibbs-White’s manager, Steve Cooper, is working to hone him into an international midfielder.
‘Like two or three of the players [here], he’s in a strong position,’ Carsley said. ‘He just needs to keep going. The more assists he gets, the more goals he scores gives him a stronger opportunity.’
Morgan Gibbs-White will captain England under-21s against France at Leicester on Saturday
He’s been thriving for Nottingham Forest so far this season – driving their survival push
Carsley has not seen the players since September, a huge vacuum in the build-up to a major tournament, but has noticed significant growth in certain members of his squad. Gibbs-White’s experiences at Forest, becoming the most creative outlet alongside Brennan Johnson, have catapulted his chances.
The tattoo on his hand, reading “why save the good stuff for later”, feels symbolic after taking the permanent leap away from Wolves. That price tag, £25million, is something he relished, feeling that he has since proven naysayers wrong. And so came Southgate talking up his chances to make the next jump.
‘It’s a nice feeling, it means you’re doing things right,’ Gibbs-White said. ‘My main focus is with the Under 21s at the moment, we’ve got a big tournament in the summer. And then my club form – I need to concentrate on that.
‘It’s an honour I’ve even been mentioned and it shows I’m improving on the right path. I have to strive for more. I could play for Jamaica, but I’ve been with England since the Under 16s and it’s a dream of mine to one day play for the seniors.’
Gibbs-White is one of the Under-17 World Cup winners from six years ago, scoring in the final against Spain. Cooper was also his manager then and sat down with him before Qatar. ‘We looked at my stats,’ Gibbs-White said. ‘I wasn’t quite up there with others in the Premier League.
Gareth Southgate has made clear that he is watching the winger in view of a future call-up
‘We’ve been working day in, day out on the training ground to improve those areas. We sat down again a few weeks ago and my stats were right up there with some of the top players.’
The bond is strong, those experiences with the Under 17s are bound to bind. Gibbs-White remains close to a few of them, but Phil Foden in particular. ‘I’m godparent to his kids,’ he revealed. ‘They’ve got two beautiful, funny kids.
‘We just had a good connection. I met him at 16, we just got on. Our girlfriends are close. We roomed together quite a bit. He’s always been a nice kid, Phil. Unbelievable player. He’d play Fortnite until one or two o’clock in the morning every night! Every night. I’d say that if he scored tomorrow then he could stay on it for another couple of hours.’
Gibbs-White will hope the pair of them are bartering again soon, although knows there remains work to do.
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