Ray Parlour is absolutely spot on when he says Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has a “massive opportunity” to get into the senior England side next season.
Speaking on talkSPORT’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast programme [Monday, 8:35am], former Three Lions international Parlour said that Grealish has a real chance to impress Gareth Southgate.
“He’ll certainly have an opportunity to play in that midfield area if he plays well for Villa next season,” the -old said. “I think Gareth’s not scared to put youngsters in and him, [James] Maddison and all those guys have got big claims for that midfield area.
“We talk about being comfortable on the ball and Grealish is certainly comfortable on the ball. There’s a massive opportunity for him now, it’s been a brilliant season for Jack since he got back into the side.
“He’s played really well this season, he’s been very consistent and now he’s on the big stage and that’s what it’s all about. He has to make sure he turns it on.”
Parlour is exactly right with this claim. One problem that has plagued England down the years is finding a good midfield partnership.
In the 2000s, the country had – let’s face it – the best midfielders in the world in David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes. But not one manager could find – or was brave enough to try to find – the perfect pairing.
While England’s current midfielders – in the context of the current footballing landscape – are not the world-beaters that the Three Lions had back in the day, they are still some of the most talented.
But England face the same problem – who should they pick in midfield? Southgate went with Declan Rice, Ross Barkley and Fabian Delph in the Nations League against the Netherlands on Thursday. But it did not work, with England dominated in the midfield.
Thankfully, Southgate is a lot more experimental than his predecessors, and is not afraid to mix things up if he feels he needs to. Which means, as Parlour says, Grealish has a great chance.
He suffered a nasty injury midway through last season, but was still mightily impressive with six goals and eight assists in all competitions last term.
Now, he has the chance to really prove himself. The Premier League is a league which can make or break players due to its unique nature; it is like no other league in the world.
But if Grealish can make the step up next season and put in some really good performances, there is every chance that with Southgate’s tendency to chop and change, the Villa man may well get a chance.