Jack Grealish Is He England’s Future Or Odd Man Out

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Jack Grealish Is He England’s Future Or Odd Man Out

“In England, they talk about creative problems in midfield, but Jack Grealish brings that to a team. He deserves a shot.”

When a midfield player as accomplished as Kevin de Bruyne speaks glowingly about the qualities and international credentials of a peer, it is worth paying attention.

Game, as they say, recognises game.

The Manchester City player was speaking in the aftermath of England’s Nations League win over Belgium last month – a game in which De Bruyne featured, but Grealish did not, despite having excelled in the preceding friendly victory over Wales.

During the past two Premier League seasons, the Aston Villa player has been a ball-carrying, space-finding, chance-providing machine – all things that Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions side have lacked of late.

The coming seven days provide him and England with further opportunities to get acquainted, including games against Belgium and Iceland.

First up, though, is a friendly with the Republic of Ireland – whom Grealish represented at under-21 level, courtesy of his Irish grandparents, and would surely have been lining up for had he not opted instead to play for the country of his birth.

So can the 25-year-old now force his way into Southgate’s senior side and establish himself as England’s future? Or is he destined to be the latest in a line of prodigious talents more appreciated by the English public than his national manager?

Grealish ‘doesn’t have to do it all himself’

Whether it be helping his club avoid relegation last season or driving them on to four wins out of four at the start of this campaign, Grealish has certainly put forward a compelling case for England inclusion over the past 15 months.

He provided a club-high eight goals and six assists in the Premier League in 2019-20 and has four and five respectively already in 2020-21, during which his overall creativity and attacking stats are up there with the best in the division.

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Only Harry Kane has created more big chances than Grealish in the Premier League this season. In addition to the above, Grealish’s 70 touches in the opposition box is second only to Mohamed Salah’s 79 in the league in 2020-21

As former England international Karen Carney told BBC Sport, a change in Grealish’s club position and role and better players around him, courtesy of Villa’s improved summer recruitment strategy, have only helped him further strengthen his case.

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“He now operates on the left and coming inside,” said Carney. “I think 10 is his best position but people like him on the left because defensively he can get away with not being as strong when he’s out wide.

“Last season he was given a free role and a licence but was perhaps a little ill-disciplined at times in possession. This season I think he has become even more disciplined in that regard.

“It helps when you have better players around you and you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Ollie Watkins stretches play and that creates space and in Ross Barkley he has a player he can form partnerships with.”

Such factors are born out in the change in his attacking output over the six games of this season, in comparison to last.

Jack Grealish Is He England’s Future Or Odd Man Out

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