The Aston Villa forward was a controversial exclusion when Gareth Southgate named his squad for the Nations League clashes, but now gets his chance
Jack Grealish has been given a first senior call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England side following a number of withdrawals from the squad.
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has pulled out with an ankle injury, while Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks has also withdrawn, leaving spaces in the senior squad, one of which Aston Villa star Grealish has been called on to fill.
Villa captain Grealish has previously represented England at under-21 level and was a member of Southgate’s 2016 Toulon Tournament-winning squad, having chosen to represent the Three Lions over the Republic of Ireland, for who he was also eligible.
Grealish could be one of several England players to make his senior debut against either Iceland or Denmark, along with Wolves defender Conor Coady and Arsenal utility man Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who were also late call-ups following Southgate’s initial announcement last week.
Phil Foden of Man City, Kalvin Phillips from Leeds United, and Man United duo Mason Greenwood and Dean Henderson could also win their first senior caps in the coming internationals.
Rashford meanwhile posted a message on social media following his withdrawal, saying he was disappointed to miss out but that he is still not fully fit as he recovers from an ankle knock.
He wrote on Twitter: “Gutted. Never want to let this team down but these fixtures just came a little too soon for me. I tried my best but I have to focus on starting the season at my strongest for club and country. Good luck boys, I’ll be cheering you on from home.”
Grealish was the stand-out player in Aston Villa’s team last season, his 10 goals and eight assists in 41 matches in all competitions in 2019/20 proving invaluable as Dean Smith’s side narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League.
His initial snub by Southgate was criticised by some England fans on social media and by several pundits, including former England captain and record goal scorer Wayne Rooney.
Rooney told talkSPORT before Grealish’s late call-up: “It’s very surprising. The season he had he was outstanding.
“I’ve been there when I was a young player at Everton and the team probably weren’t to the standard I was, and I think that’s where Jack is at now – Aston Villa are not at the standard of the player he is.
“I can’t work it out why’s he’s not in the squad – I have no idea. He should be in that squad. Even if he is just in the squad to train and you just bring him on for 10 minutes to see his character and see how he reacts to it. It was shocking that he wasn’t in the squad.”