Gareth Southgate acknowledged that Jack Grealish is working his way up the England pecking order after another impressive individual performance in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Belgium.
Grealish was the undoubted highlight for the Three Lions as they saw their hopes of another UEFA Nations League Finals appearance dashed in Leuven.
The Aston Villa man took more touches (76) than any of his fellow England forwards, completed more passes in the opposition half (47) than any other player on the pitch, and won 86 per cent of his 14 duels.
Asked if Grealish had further strengthened his claim for regular England starts as a result, manager Southgate told ITV: “Yeah, 100 per cent.
“I sort of explained to him what we wanted to see when we brought him in in September.
“I think it’s been helpful for him to bed in with the group so that he knows the way we want to play and the players get an understanding with him.
7 – Jack Grealish was fouled seven times against Belgium tonight; the most by an England player in a game since Harry Kane against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup (9). Spark. pic.twitter.com/PTdb2sUPRA
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 15, 2020
“Today was a great game for us to see him in and to see the level and I couldn’t speak highly enough of his performance.
“What I saw, that I knew I would see, was someone with the bravery to play.
“I think he took the ball in tight areas, his technique was good, he took players out of the game. We knew he would buy a lot of free-kicks, which of course he did.
“I just thought he was outstanding. He should be absolutely delighted with the way he played.”
Grealish, too, alluded to his private conversations with Southgate, insisting they had been key to his emergence on the international stage.
He continued: “I said the other day, he’s been brilliant with me since I first came here in September. He told me what I needed to do to get into the side and I’ve gone away and worked on that.
“At the end of the day, that’s what you need to do in football; there’s only one person that you need to impress if you want to get in the team and that’s the manager.
“He obviously gave me some praise after the game, which is nice.”
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