Grealish was largely confined to the substitutes’ bench during Euro 2020 despite the national clamour for him to be involved for England from the start, and it seems his manager still has other ideas
As he so often does, Gareth Southgate leaves it up to you to name names, leaves it up to you to second-guess the England manager.
“We have some players who have got us to a semi-final and a final, and who’ve proved themselves in the biggest games on the biggest stage,” he says.
Well, we know who they are, trusted lieutenants such as Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker, to name but a few.
“And we’ve got lots of guys with good reputations who haven’t, as yet, necessarily won things and who still have a lot to prove.”
Who could possibly be amongst those?
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It might be a mistake but I am probably not the only one thinking Jack Grealish.
The Manchester City man is certainly a guy with a good reputation and a price tag to match.
Ditto Jadon Sancho, although he does have a German Cup on his CV.
Grealish and Sancho are two of the players many England supporters would probably like to see more of.
But any idea of playing a more expansive, adventurous style in order to accommodate a greater number of flair players gets short shrift from Southgate.
As England prepare for the World Cup qualifier in Budapest and the games against Andorra at Wembley and Poland in Warsaw, don’t, for one second, think Southgate is suddenly going to go remotely gung-ho.
“I’m always looking at Chelsea, who are the Champions League winners, who play three attacking players,” explains Southgate.
“I don’t see too many teams in world football who win things playing with five attacking players.
“I understand people want to see exciting players … but I think our goalscoring record is pretty strong. The teams that have won tournaments in the past were averaging 12 goals in those tournaments. We had 11, Italy got 13 (at Euro 2020).
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“I think we play good football but we can’t get every attacking player onto the pitch and some of them still have a long way to go to being the finished article.”
After picking up a knock in training, Sancho is a doubt for the game against Hungary.
Grealish has a chance of starting but will, more probably, have to be content with a place on the bench.
After the £100million move to the Etihad, Southgate is looking forward to seeing how Grealish develops under Pep Guardiola, although the England manager even sounded a note of caution about that.
Southgate said: “We’ve got to respect that he (Grealish) is going to need a period of adaptation with his club. There’s a big difference to the way Manchester City play.
“Pep is very precise on positional discipline with the ball. That’s different to what Jack’s used to. That will take some adaptation.
“I don’t think the price tag will bother him. He’s a player that thrives on that sort of pressure. I think he is ready for that.
“He is also going to play Champions League football and he is going to play with top-level players, train with top-level players, and he’s going to play at a club where they have to win every week.
“The combination of all those things is going to help him become a better player.”
And you never know, it might even help him become one of Gareth’s trusted lieutenants.