Former Aston Villa defender Joleon Lescott believes that England manager Gareth Southgate has a ‘personal’ issue with club captain Jack Grealish.
Lescott not convinced
The Villa Park talisman was recently handed his first full senior cap for the Three Lions and put in an impressive performance during their 3-0 victory against Wales, as they prepared for the subsequent UEFA Nations League games against Belgium and Denmark.
Surprisingly, the 25-year-old found himself an unused substitute for both of those games. This came after Southgate appeared to dodge questions about Grealish to talk about Chelsea’s Mason Mount instead, who ended up being picked for both games, which incensed many Villa supporters.
Does Jack Grealish deserve more credit with England?
Lescott, who played for Villa for just one season, has also been fighting Grealish’s corner and is mystified as to why he did not get any competitive action for England last week.
Speaking on Sky Sports‘ Soccer Saturday (17/10/20, 2:10 pm), the 38-year-old is adamant that Southgate’s issues with Grealish are about more than just football.
“It was strange”, he said. “There seems to be a lack of consistency in the reasons for him to not be involved. He obviously dominated the game against Wales. Man of the Match display and then didn’t get on the next game.
“Then the Denmark game, you are talking about the style and what we were trying to do in regards to getting fouls and putting balls into the box. Jack Grealish gets fouled more time than any other player.
“There is obviously something there. There is obviously a reason. I honestly believe it’s a personal thing. I don’t think it’s down to a technical issue or an aspect down to his game because he’s proven to be as consistent as anybody in that squad.
“When he was given the chance to play, he performed and then to not feature. You would like to think not [an English manager would hold a grudge against a player]. But what is the reason then?”
Lescott is right – Southgate has been unable to stick to his word regarding the reasons he picks players. The England manager first gave the explanation that Grealish needs to accumulate more minutes in the Premier League before he is considered, and yet selected Kalvin Phillips before he had even kicked a ball in the top flight.
This means that Grealish is potentially fighting a battle that he cannot win and his chances of representing the Three Lions in a major tournament appear less likely, through no fault of his own.
All he can do at this point is keeping performing at the high levels that he has been for his club. Fans and pundits sticking up for him at this time and the captain just needs to keep his head down and prove a point to Southgate.
Villa fans, do you agree with Joleon Lescott? Join in the discussion by commenting below…
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