Jude Bellingham is England’s top talent since Wayne Rooney and Ivory Coast display will give Gareth Southgate dilemma

IT’S hard to believe that Jude Bellingham is still only 18 years old.

Because the Dortmund midfielder is already running the show internationally and proving he’s going to be an England superstar far beyond this year’s World Cup final in Qatar.

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Jude Bellingham has shown he should be an automatic starter for England at the World CupCredit: Getty

In fact, there’s a good chance he could still be the nation’s leading man in 2030 if he can maintain his current extraordinary pace of progress.

And any lingering doubts Gareth Southgate might have harbored over Bellingham’s suitability for a starting role in his side were surely dispelled after that five-star performance at Wembley.

Now the question must be who the England boss is leaving out to accommodate the teenager’s presence in the future.

Because never since Wayne Rooney burst onto the international scene all those years ago have we had such brilliant talent as this.

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The poor old Ivorians certainly didn’t know if they were coming or going because Bellingham tore them to shreds last night.

He was only denied his first senior international goal by the width of the goal post when his 15th-minute shot was deflected off goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare’s leg.

And he was convinced he had earned his side a penalty early in the second half when he was sent flying into the box.

Referee Erik Lambrechts was also certain a foul had been committed until the television screen at the side of the pitch showed that Fousseny Coulibaly had just touched the ball before crashing into Bellingham.

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But nothing was going to spoil the lad’s big night as he covered every blade of the Wembley turf to maintain England’s winning streak.

The task was certainly made easier when the visitors were reduced to ten by the scatterbrained Serge Aurier receiving his second yellow card of the evening.

Yet even before Aurier’s early departure, Bellingham was pulling all the strings on the left side of England’s midfield at three.

His connection to Jack Grealish was a constant source of encouragement for Southgate, who would certainly have preferred to see his side play against a full roster of opponents for the full 90 minutes.

And nothing the England boss saw from Bellingham last night would have come as a surprise.

A SPECIAL

Because he’s known for years that this kid is something special and it’s always been about when and not if Bellingham was going to be let go.

His close control, passing range, vision and tireless running are all top notch.

And he made it very clear that he was not going to be intimidated by the industrial approach of the Ivorians as they flew into the tackle with malicious intent.

On a few occasions he faced his assailants and had to be taken away by his teammates before he got into trouble with the difficult Belgian referee.

But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of spice as long as it’s under control and his Dortmund coach Marco Rose has in fact encouraged his young prodigy not to take any nonsense from anyone.

Rose is even more delighted with Bellingham’s statement that he has no intention of leaving Dortmund this summer, even though every Premier League club would kill for his signature.

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Luckily for Southgate, he doesn’t have to worry about where Bellingham will be plying his trade next season.

Because who he plays for, he will definitely be on that plane for Qatar.