Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has been at the heart of social media conversation after England boss Gareth Southgate explained the playmaker needs to feature in the Premier League in order to play for his country.
The 23-year-old has been the spearhead of Villa’s play-off push this season, with a number of eye-catching displays. Grealish’s return from a three-month injury lay-off has coincided with a four-match winning run for Dean Smith’s side, which has lifted them to sixth in the Championship table.
That fine run of form has led to talk on Twitter about Grealish’s continued absence from the national side. Southgate has previously called up Championship contingent in the form of Derby’s Mason Mount and Stoke City ‘keeps Jack Butland.
Gareth Southgate making little sense in his reasoning for not calling up Jack Grealish – saying he needs to be playing in the Premier League, yet he called up Mason Mount just a few months ago.
— Graeme Bailey (@GraemeBailey) March 24, 2019
However, on this occasion, Southgate has made the bold statement that Grealish needs to perform in the top flight to get a cap for his country.
He said: “I’m not going to say we won’t pick a player from the Championship because that could happen but it’s far more difficult to assess his level. You see certain parts of the game but not others. Not the physicality at times, nor the tactical discipline.
“That’s another level in the Premier League: the speed, the pace. So, he’s a player we know all about, he’s a player we track. But that last bit of evidence that could give you confidence to pick him at the moment we won’t see. But as an ex-Villa man I hope it’s not too long before we do see it.”
With England still search for a new midfield maestro and some much-needed creativity in the middle, these comments from Southgate have sparked discussion on social media.
Why is the ‘Jack Grealish for England’ even a debate? He’s not good enough and that should be the end of the story
— Alex Broom (@alexbroom_) March 24, 2019
Whilst the Three Lions could do with a fresh injection of talent, Grealish has yet to cut it at the highest level. Whether Villa earn promotion or not, the club’s boyhood fan needs to be playing in the top flight next season.
James Maddison is a perfect example of a player who has made that same step. After a stellar season for Norwich City last year, one not too dissimilar to Grealish’s this year, he swapped Carrow Road for the King Power Stadium.
"I thought this was maybe a strange quote from Gareth Southgate when he said 'Jack Grealish can't play for England if he's in the Championship.'"
"Is that fair?"
Should #AVFC's Jack Grealish be in the England squad?
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) March 25, 2019
Since, six goals and as many assists for his new club, Leicester, has seen Maddison receive his first senior call-up. Whilst he’s yet to be capped, the future is looking bright.
That’s what Grealish must aspire to emulate. Whether it’s at Villa Park, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium or elsewhere, it’s time for this long-time prodigy to progress his career and test himself on the biggest stage.
If he can do that, we might just see him in the White of England in the near future.
— StoryHub (@StoryHubDerby) March 25, 2019