The international break is among us once again and England kicked it off with a handsome 3-0 win over Wales at Wembley on Thursday night.
In a completely changed side, Gareth Southgate opted for a 343 formation from the start. Nick Pope started in goal with a back three of Joe Gomez, Conor Coady and Michael Keane ahead of him. Bukayo Saka made his debut at left-wing back, with Kieran Trippier wearing the armband from the right hand side. Harry Winks partnered Kalvin Phillips in midifled, with Jack Grealish playing in the No.10 position behind strikers Danny Ings and debutant Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
After a bit of a sloppy start, Jack Grealish took the game by the scruff of the neck and was the best player on the pitch. It was his quick feet and quality that put in the cross for Calvert-Lewin’s opener and his general quality throughout the game earned him the man of the match award.
Following the game when asked, manager Gareth Southgate seemed to deflect away from praising Grealish, instead talking about how good Mason Mount was after he came on to replace Calvert-Lewin in the second half.
It’s not the first time that he has done this either. During the last international break following Grealish’s impressive debut, he was asked once again about the Aston Villa man and again deflected and took the opportunity to talk about someone else.
Grealish was only in the squad last time around because injuries meant he was called up as a late replacement, but the original omission from the squad was bizarre anyway. This time, he was called up immediately following a great start to the season where he has been influential in Aston Villa’s excellent start.
At first he was using the fact Grealish was playing Championship football as a reason not to call him up, but then he contradicted himself by calling up Kalvin Phillips before he had made his Premier League debut. Then he stated that he was competing with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford for a spot in the squad as a wide player due to his best form with Villa coming on the left wing. He seemed to change his mind in the fixture vs Wales though, playing Grealish as a central playmaker.
With his performances, Grealish is forcing his way into the squad right now. He’s making Southgate have no option but to select him right now but the vibe that most seem to be getting at the moment is that the manager can’t wait to have a reason not to use him.
It’s a very weird situation but Grealish is doing everything he needs to do right now to earn himself praise and a place in the squad. Whatever agenda Gareth Southgate has against him, he needs to drop it.