Balls & Odds Column by Fred Done, co-founder of Birchwood-based Betfred

GARETH Southgate may, like the rest of us, not be allowed back to watch live football but I bet sitting at home in front of the telly no doubt in his trademark waistcoat he’s absolutely loving the post-lockdown Premier League action.

The England coach cannot fail to be impressed at the scintillating form of the nation’s young ’uns particularly Mason Greenwood at Manchester United and of course Phil Foden at City.

Whether it has something to do with the lack of pressure from full stadiums or the fact that teams can have five subs rather than four, but these two have stepped up to such an extent that they should not just be certain starters for their clubs – but for England too.

Mason Mount at Chelsea is another in the emerging crop of young talent…and if we could find ourselves some decent central defenders Southgate would be in a position to win us our first international competition since the 1966 World Cup.

Curtis Jones, aged 19 at Liverpool and Everton’s Anthony Gordon, also 19, are also enjoying breakthrough seasons – and this pair too are products of their respective clubs’ academies.

All credit to the various academies up and down the land for producing these gems. Can you imagine the value of these players in years to come – certainly enough to pay a fair proportion of the slick academy facilities here in the north west that are the envy of world football.

Mason’s extraordinary goal scoring record of late has led to him being compared to George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney during their first season as teenagers at United.

With the title at Anfield, City second and United battling for a top four finish fans are already pondering what’s going to happen next season. Betfred have City as evens to take the title back from Liverpool with Liverpool 6/4 second favourites. There has been a surge in bets on United who have been cut from 10/1 to 7/1 while we have Chelsea next at 16/1 which oddly enough is how I top four ending this season namely Liverpool, City, United and Chelsea.

We’ve had some interesting winners recently including a customer from Manchester who bet £1 on City to beat Brighton 5-0 with Raheem Sterling scoring at 80/1 shot which she wagered online at 4am on the day of the match – and another customer from Wirral who had a fiver on the same which he placed eight seconds before kick-off.

Finally my congratulations to Dave Hopewell. He never met his grandad, but knew he died during the First World War.

Investigations by the War Graves Commission established that Isaac Morris had served during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign and later died aged 30 in the Battle of Gaza.

Private Morris was in Dave’s mind when he was at a Betfred shop in Nottingham – and he just had to pick a horse called Gallipoli, which was number 13, that was running at Redcar.

The gelding, which was a 28/1 longshot, was last off as part of Dave’s incredible £1 Lucky 15 bet.

“I was in a bit of a rush at the bookies to be honest, because I knew my beans on toast was ready and waiting at home and I needed to be back in ten minutes,” joked the 74-year-old granddad.

Dave picked his own favourite horses Caspian Prince at Newcastle together with Limato and Boccaccio at Newmarket - and of course his NAP Gallipoli.

And much to his delight all four horses romped first past the post, landing him the biggest win of his life…a whopping £36,379.90.