Bellingham has been included in the England squad for this month’s Nations League games with Italy and Germany, following a strong start to the season for the Borussia Dortmund teenager.
The 19-year-old has earned 15 caps since becoming the Three Lions’ third-youngest debutant of all time, but just six of his appearances for the national side have come from the start.
However, Richards believes Bellingham should be in the starting side for Qatar having been impressed with the midfielder’s performance in Dortmund’s recent Champions League clash at Manchester City.
”I still have to do a double-take when I look at his age. He is 19 and running midfields in games of the highest standards,” Richards said in his column for the Daily Mail.
”When I was 19 in the England squad, I was trying to find my feet and not look like a startled rabbit but this kid is just unbelievable.
”It wasn’t just his goal — the way he arrived to instinctively head in — against City that made him stand out. It was the manner in which he was shouting at people, ordering them about and demanding the best from them, with his intelligence and fearlessness.
”No longer are the words ‘could be’ appropriate when discussing him. There is no ‘could be’ about it — Jude Bellingham is already unbelievable and he is going to be at the heart of this England team for years to come, and I can’t wait to see his progress.
”This is his time. I have no doubts at all that he will be central to Southgate’s plans in Qatar — not just in his squad but his starting line-up for the opening match against Iran — and these two Nations League ties against Italy and Germany are the perfect opportunity to see him flourish.”