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England give Champions League hero Bellingham week off

Gareth Southgate has given Jude Bellingham the week off to decompress before reporting to his England squad for the Euro 2024 soccer tournament, saying rest was most important for the 20-year-old on the heels of his remarkable LaLiga season.

Bellingham helped Real Madrid to wrap up the league title, and to win the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Saturday.

Southgate said he did not consider Bellingham's absence as a sacrifice to himself or the team this week, when they have friendlies against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Newcastle on Monday and Iceland at Wembley on Friday.

Southgate said: "It's not the most important thing. The most important thing for Jude is rest, recovery, and we will benefit from that. That's the constraints of international football. We don't have the players as often as you do at a club to quite be as cohesive.

"You have to work out what are the most important things. And at this moment in time in my opinion for Jude, and therefore for the team, is time to recover and psychologically switch off."

Asked how Bellingham might spend his downtime before joining the squad, Southgate joked that he would rather not know, then added that the young player would likely cherish time with family after such a demanding club season.

Asked what kind of person Bellingham was, Southgate said he was down to earth.

"You saw him with his family (after Saturday's victory) and they have to take enormous credit for that, because he is as he comes across in his interviews; he's authentic in his interviews, that's how he is every day, whoever he's interacting with among our staff, among our players," said the manager.

"He's got the humility, the understanding. I'm sure joining a big club like Madrid, he recognised he had to earn the respect of people like Luka Modric, Tony Kroos, but he would have also had a little respect on the training pitch for that, and would have attacked that challenge, so that that's why he's adapted as well as he has."