Gareth Southgate has told Jack Grealish his chances of receiving an England call-up would be a lot stronger if he was playing for a Premier League club.
The 23-year-old winger is currently plying his trade for boyhood club Aston Villa but has recently been linked with a summer move to Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham.
A future England international? Five things to know…
- Grealish chose to represent England in 2016 having played for the Republic of Ireland across their various youth teams.
- He’s collected seven U21 caps (scoring twice) to date and made his debut under Gareth Southgate.
- A graduate of Aston Villa’s youth set-up he’s to date made 135 appearances for the first team registering 13 goals and creating a further 19.
- He was linked with a move to Spurs in the summer of 2018 but it never came to fruition.
- Villa are currently sixth in the Championship table and Grealish has so far contributed with four goals in 24 matches.
In fact, the Lilywhites were heavily associated with Grealish’s signature last summer, but nothing came of it as Mauricio Pochettino began the 2018/19 season without a new face.
Grealish, a graduate of Villa’s academy, would remain in Birmingham and is on course to enjoy his most prolific campaign since breaking into the first team aged 18 in 2014.
So far, after 24 matches in the Championship, he’s bagged four goals but those efforts aside his performances have earned him a mention in potentially being called-up by Southgate.
He’s been ready to represent the Three Lions since 2016 when he turned down the chance of playing for the Republic of Ireland, despite turning out for their various youth teams, but Southgate has confessed that only when he plays at a level similar to the Premier League that a call-up will follow.
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“Jack worked with us in the Under-21s briefly,” he told reporters.
“The difficulty is always that, although we can see the quality, he’s at a different level and it’s hard to directly correlate what that will look like at a level above. With Callum [Hudson-Odoi], he’s playing Europa League, he’s playing Premier League, that makes a difference.
“I’m not going to say we won’t pick from the Championship, as that could happen, but it’s far more difficult to assess his level. You see certain parts of the game, but not others. Not the physicality at times, nor the tactical discipline.
“That’s at another level in the Premier League, the speed, the pace. So, Jack’s a player we know all about, he’s a player we track. But that last bit of evidence, which could give you confidence to pick him, we haven’t seen.”
Since being appointed in September 2016 as England’s 15th permanent manager Gareth Southgate has given 26 players their first international cap:
Jesse Lingard (v Malta, 2016), Aaron Cresswell (v Spain, 2016), Michael Keane (v Germany, 2017), Nathan Redmond (v Germany, 2017), James Ward-Prowse (v Germany, 2017), Kieran Trippier (v France, 2017), Harry Maguire (v Lithuania, 2017), Harry Winks (v Lithuania, 2017), Jordan Pickford (v Germany, 2017), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (v Germany, 2017), Tammy Abraham (v Germany, 2017), Joe Gomez (v Germany, 2017), Jack Cork (v Germany, 2017), Dominic Solanke (v Germany, 2017), James Tarkowski (v Italy, 2018), Lewis Cook (v Italy, 2018), Trent Alexander-Arnold (v Costa Rica, 2018), Nick Pope (v Costa Rica, 2018), Ben Chilwell (v Switzerland, 2018), Jadon Sancho (v Croatia, 2018), Nathaniel Chalobah (v Spain, 2018), Callum Wilson (v USA, 2018), Lewis Dunk (v USA, 2018), Alex McCarthy (v USA, 2018), Declan Rice (v Czech Republic, 2018), Callum Hudson-Odoi (v Czech Republic, 2018).
Interestingly, and this should give Grealish some heart, of those 26 players no fewer than 11 of them – Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Chalobah, Keane, Loftus-Cheek, Pickford, Lingard, Gomez, Solanke, Chilwell and Wilson – played under Southgate at U21 level. Grealish, of course, made his England U21 debut under everyone’s favourite waistcoat-wearing manager.