You’re alright, Jack! Grealish being lined up for key role in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euros after impressing Three Lions boss in November audition
- Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is being lined up for a key role at this summer’s Euros
- There are concerns among the public that he would miss out on the squad
- However, Gareth Southgate was left impressed with Grealish last November
- The Villa star dazzled in three appearances against Belgium, Ireland and Iceland
Jack Grealish is being lined up for a key role at the European Championship by Gareth Southgate despite concern among the public that the Aston Villa player might miss out on the squad.
Last November’s internationals are believed to have been Grealish’s key audition, when he started and thrived in all three games against the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland.
The fact that he started against Belgium away from home, the most difficult test England have had this season, is seen as significant in that it demonstrates Southgate will trust him to start games against top opposition.
Jack Grealish is set for a key role in Southgate’s England squad for the Euros this summer
There had been concerns that the Aston Villa star would be left out of the 23-man squad
He has since gone on to even better form at Villa and, though he missed this squad because of a shin injury, there is no danger that Grealish would miss out on the final 23 for the Euros, assuming he is fit. Grealish is expected to start today against Fulham.
It is understood that most of Southgate’s conversations with players last week have been more about managing expectations and telling them what would have to happen for them to make the squad. That is partly because Grealish is down for the final squad once fit and so some picked for last week’s games will miss out.
Grealish has become a cause celebre among supporters, with fears that he may become another Matt Le Tissier figure, a superbly talented player but one who was deemed not to fit England’s system and who only won eight caps.
But that seems unlikely under Southgate. Playing at the Euros will be a vindication for the Aston Villa captain, 25, who was a teenage prodigy for the Republic of Ireland Under 21s but who turned down a senior call up from them in 2015 in order to be available for England.
However, the England boss was left impressed by Grealish’s Three Lions audition in November
That looked to have been a misjudgment as he initially failed to live up to early expectations but he was finally rewarded with an England debut five years later and now looks to be a key part of Southgate’s squad.
Whether he will be part of the starting XI is yet to be determined. Southgate looks to want to play him in the attacking left-sided role he plays for his club, rather than as a midfielder. As such he would be in competition with Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford to start for England.
UEFA’s preparations for Euro 2020, meanwhile, are likely to be delayed again this week when venues are required to confirm if they can host matches with crowds.
Increasing positive tests in Europe — Italy has gone into a three-day Easter lockdown — means UEFA will be sweating on venues which may be unable to give guarantees.
But UEFA’s medical advisor is confident that the tournament will have fans across the continent this summer, with the British Government hoping that Wembley could be close to a full house for the semi-finals and final, with almost all restrictions due to be lifted in England from June 21.
Southgate is likely to want to play Grealish on the left, and it is not known whether he will start
The 12 venues have until Wednesday to confirm if they will still be part of the tournament and that they can guarantee 25 per cent capacity for games. Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and St Petersburg are all hosts.
With positive tests increasing significantly in Germany, Holland, Hungary and Romania, it is difficult to see how venues in those countries can commit now to staging games with fans in June. Yet Hungary are planning to open up their country and Holland played their World Cup qualifier against Latvia in front of 5,000 fans as a Covid test event.
Munich looks to be most vulnerable given the cautious approach of health officials.
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