'That is why': Paul Merson makes surprise claim about Grealish not playing for England in Euro 2020 win
Grealish was one of the most talked-about players heading into the tournament. He enjoyed an outstanding season with Villa. And he was one of the stars of the show in the warm-up friendlies at the Riverside Stadium.
However, Gareth Southgate opted to leave Grealish out of the starting lineup against Croatia.
And, perhaps even more remarkably, the England boss decided to not bring the 25-year-old on at any stage in the 1-0 win.
Some will likely remain adamant that Grealish’s time will come. England have seven games to contest if they hope to win the tournament.
But Merson has seemingly suggested that he was not brought on because Southgate was wary of him impressing.
“The problem with playing Grealish, though, is the whole nation wants him to start as he is the ‘new Gazza’. He is a top-drawer player, don’t get me wrong, but I do not think he fits into Gareth’s plans,” he told Sky Sports.
“And if he plays him and he rips it up, then Gareth is under severe pressure again when he does not need to be under that pressure.
“And that is why I do not think he came on against Croatia, as it was made for him with Croatia chasing the game 1-0 down. No one keeps the ball better than Grealish.”
Grealish does not appear to have won Southgate over after snub as England open Euro 2020 campaign with win
Southgate will surely argue that Grealish will get an opportunity. He was picked ahead of Jadon Sancho for a place on the bench at Wembley.
And perhaps he felt that it was not the game for the Aston Villa captain. England were defending a narrow lead.
Having said that, Southgate did use his substitutions to strengthen England in midfield and attack. So the fact that he was not thrown on is perhaps ominous.
It took a long time for Grealish to force his way onto the international scene. Many clearly would have picked him long before Southgate did.
So it seems more than likely that Merson’s view echoes what a lot of people fear about Grealish and his place in the current England side.
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