Menu

Pep - Jude has shown he can handle the physicality of this league

Jude Bellingham challenges Boro's Paddy McNair for the ball.
Jude Bellingham challenges Boro's Paddy McNair for the ball.

He's handling it very well at the moment and he's a strong player so I don't see why he can't hack it.

Pep Clotet.

Pep Clotet says that Jude Bellingham's latest performance in the centre of midfield shows he has got the physical strength as well as the natural talent to play in that position.

The 16-year-old put in another inspiring display against Middlesbrough on Friday, in what was only his third start for the Club.

And alongside teammate Ivan Sunjic, he more than matched the experienced Boro trio of Jonny Howson, Adam Clayton and Paddy McNair.

Blues dominated the midfield area against Jonathan Woodgate's side, with Bellingham slotting into a playmaking role.

"For me, that's Jude's best position playing in midfield in front of the back four," said Clotet. 

"When he made his debut here at St. Andrew's he did it on the wing in the same position that Fran Villalba played on Friday.

"So, he had to come in and try to link in behind, but in my head, he was always a midfielder.

"He can go forward as well, he can defend, he is very complete and despite being only 16 he handles the physicality of the midfield very well."

Bellingham was used in a 'narrow' wide role when he came on against Stoke City and at Charlton Athletic as Clotet felt he was the best fit for that brief at the time.

Bellingham adapted intelligently - coming in off the left to score the winner against the Addicks - but Clotet is well aware his ideal position has been primarily an eight or 10 when coming through the Academy ranks.

With the amount of work that Bellingham put in against Boro, and due to the after effects of a knock as well, it was no surprise that he was substituted with just over 15 minutes to go.

"I will say the same again that I've said in the press before, that we time everything well for him," continued Clotet.

"The only difference between a player who is 16 and a player that has a lot of years as a pro is the way that they handle the load.

"An experienced player has a lot of experience and his body is used to the physical load and training and games, so they recover quickly.

"With Jude it's very important that we keep him on the line of game time without risking injury that's why I brought him out at the right time.

"It's about keep following the plan with him to make sure we can see how he handles it.

"He's handling it very well at the moment and he's a strong player so I don't see why he can't hack it."

Share