Jack Grealish should be a part of England’s midfield, according to Danny Murphy, who says Gareth Southgate is “wrong” to leave the Aston Villa star out of his plans.
Southgate named his 24-man squad for upcoming UEFA Nations League fixtures against Iceland and Denmark last week.
Manchester City’s Phil Foden, Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood and versatile Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who has never played in the Premier League, were all handed first call-ups, but Grealish was snubbed despite playing a key role in Villa’s survival bid last season.
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The 24-year-old was widely regarded as one of most consistent performers in the top-flight in 2019-20, as he stood out in a struggling side lacking quality in several other areas of the pitch.
Grealish contributed eight goals and six assists to Villa’s cause, and his final day strike in a draw against West Ham ensured that Dean Smith’s side escaped relegation.
Southgate justified the playmaker’s omission by insisting that there are players ahead of him in the pecking order, but Murphy believes the Three Lions coach is missing a trick by pinning him down as a winger.
“I feel for Jack Grealish,” the former England international told the Daily Mail. “He was superb for Aston Villa last season, one of the standout English players in the Premier League, and was the key to his side’s survival. So it was a huge blow for him to be left out of the England squad for the Nations League games.
“Gareth Southgate said he sees Grealish as a winger, maybe as a No 10, and he has a wealth of talent in those areas with Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
“It’s true, England have tremendous quality in attacking areas. Where I think Southgate is wrong is seeing him only in those positions. At his best, I believe Grealish is part of the midfield trio behind the front three.”
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Murphy is confident that, despite Southgate’s comments, Grealish will eventually be given the chance to step onto the senior stage with his country due to his strong mentality.
“It is a bit predictable that England chose the orthodox options,” he added. “The misconception about Grealish is that people see him as just a dribbler. He’s not. He has a superb range of passing and can open teams up from this deeper position.
“I feel for Jack but he is determined. His time will come. He will get his chance.”
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