Speaking recently to John Murray on the BBC’s Football Daily podcast, Gareth Southgate discussed the omission of Aston Villa attacking midfielder, Jack Grealish, from the most recent England squad.
Last season, Grealish performed incredibly well for Villa, scoring eight goals – including one on the final day of the season against West Ham, which all but ensured the club survived relegation – and providing six assists over his 36 Premier League appearances, averaging a highly impressive WhoScored match rating of 7.23 – ranking him as the club’s best performer in the league by quite a considerable distance.
These performances have drawn the interest of some of the biggest clubs in the country, including Manchester United, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said to believe that the 24-year-old could bring a different dimension to the United attacking line.
However, Grealish does not appear to have done enough to impress England manager Gareth Southgate, who left the Villa attacking midfielder out of his most recent squad – with the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Harry Winks, Mason Mount and Declan Rice all getting the nod above the 24-year-old.
Speaking to John Murray on the BBC’s Football Daily podcast, Southgate explained his decision.
He said: “Well, the difficulty for Jack is Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford. We’ve got incredible players in those positions. We’ve got competition for places. Those four have either been with us for a long time and been exceptional in their performances for us in terms of Marcus and Raheem. Jadon is just breaking through, I think everybody is aware of his potential, and Mason Greenwood’s goal scoring record and performances with Manchester United were outstanding.
“We’ve got people like Callum Hudson-Odoi as well. I know at times Villa play Jack as a midfield player, that’s not as I see him in the way that we play. With us, he would be a wide player or a 10, and I think we’ve got players at the moment that deserve to be in just ahead of him.”
Do you think Grealish deserves to be in the England squad?
So, from Southgate’s comments, it would appear that he believes Grealish has not done enough to get himself in the England squad ahead of the likes of Greenwood, Sancho, Sterling and Rashford, as those are the players with whom the England boss believes he would be competing for a place with, rather than in a more withdrawn midfield role.
However, this does bring up the question as to whether, if Grealish were playing for a top-half team, he would be looked on more favourably by Southgate, as some Manchester United fans have recently suggested.