CHRIS Powell says England star Jude Bellingham is the best young player he has ever seen.

Southend United legend Powell worked with the Real Madrid midfielder during his three-year spell in Gareth Southgate’s backroom team.

And Powell also believes Blues can lay claim to Bellingham due to his Southend supporting dad.

“We can definitely part claim him due to his dad,” said Powell.

“He’s someone I speak to regularly and he’s still mad on Southend.

“But I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a young player with so much quality at that age.

“It’s no surprise he’s gone on to such great things in his fledging career with Real Madrid but it’s astonishing really.

“I know people have called for him to come out of the team but class is permanent.

“Against Switzerland he showed some of the level he’s been at and his overhead kick against Slovakia will be the goal of the tournament too.

“He’s a big talent but we’re blessed to have so many talented players.”

Despite the quality existing within Southgate’s squad, England have yet to reach top form on their way to reaching tonight’s semi-final against the Netherlands.

But Powell is keen to point towards the positives.

“It’s a double-edged sword for everyone at the moment,”said the ex-Blues boss.

“We’re not playing anywhere near the levels everyone would want us to but it’s tournament football and it’s just about winning.

“We find ourselves in the semi-final which is amazing and I don’t think anyone can be upset we are where we are.

“Because of the quality and level of player we have, everyone was hoping for more goals and scintillating games but if they get through to the final by playing poorly then anything can happen.

“We should all be backing the team but they’re not playing to the level everyone would want.

“Hopefully they can get to that level in the next two games.”

That quest will continue against Holland this evening and Powell is expecting a stern test.

“No-one should say this is an easy game,” said Powell.

“They’re very similar to us.

“They’ve got some good, high quality players and I don’t buy into people saying they’re not as good as they used to be.

“They’re in the semi-final on merit and they’ve improved after a poor game against the Austrians.

“They’ve got game-changers and it’s going to be another tight game.

“It’s two teams who are delighted to be in the semi and I obviously hope we can make it into the final.”

England set up the semi-final clash after beating Switzerland on penalties.

And Powell was delighted to see Bukayo Saka score from 12 yards after consoling the Arsenal youngster following his miss in the Euro 2020 final shoot-out defeat to Italy.

“That’s been one of the highlights of the tournament for me,” said Powell.

“We saw it many years ago with Stuart Pearce and Bukayo has done the same now. He’s been a star for club and country and to go through that with the pressure on and score was fantastic.”