Grealish thrives under pressure -Southgate
England midfielder Jack Grealish “thrives under pressure” and can handle the expectation on him, says manager Gareth Southgate.
The Aston Villa playmaker excelled in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by Belgium, which ended England’s chances of reaching the Nations League finals next year.
“Jack has had a super start to his international career; I think he will be able to handle the attention,” Southgate said.
“We will succeed or fail as a team.”
Grealish has made a fine start to the season, scoring four goals and picking up five assists in the Premier League, with only England captain Harry Kane, the Tottenham striker, creating more goals (eight).
He has translated his club form on to the international front and looks set to be a key player for Southgate from now on – although he may not play in the dead rubber against already relegated Iceland at Wembley on Wednesday.
“Really it’s in Jack’s hands because he has shown in the games that he has had, that he can play at this level,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“He has just got to keep doing that now. Of course we have got competition for places, but he has shown things about his game which are different to the other players that we have got, which the other night, really added to our game.
“We have got to deliver a performance in response to losing to Belgium and we want to finish this autumn period well.
“The players are keen to do that. They want to get back out at Wembley and put on a good show for everybody and that’s what we have to focus on.”
Iceland manager Erik Hamren is stepping down after this match and is without several big names – with Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson and Burnley midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson among those to return to their clubs early.
Southgate says he will manage his squad, which could lead to more minutes for Manchester City’s Phil Foden, Tottenham’s Harry Winks, Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham.
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling returned to their clubs yesterday because of injury and will not feature.
Borussia Dortmund’s 17-year-old Jude Bellingham would be the youngest player to start a game for England if he makes the first XI – beating Wayne Rooney’s record.