Southgate challenges Grealish to improve tactically if he is to become an England regular

By Sports Desk June 08, 2022

Gareth Southgate has challenged Manchester City attacker Jack Grealish to improve tactically if he is to become a regular starter for England.

Grealish was introduced from the bench with 18 minutes remaining of Tuesday's Nations League showdown with Germany in Munich.

The 26-year-old made a difference down the left-hand side for England, who secured a 1-1 draw through Harry Kane's late penalty after Jonas Hofmann had opened the scoring.

Despite his limited minutes on the pitch, Grealish managed six touches in the opposition box, which is double that of any England player other than Kane (seven).

He created one chance and was also involved in the build-up to the incident that saw Kane felled in the area to win the penalty that he converted for his 50th England goal.

However, while Southgate was pleased with the impact made by Grealish, the Three Lions boss indicated that he is still after more from British football's most expensive player.

"At the start of the game the challenge for the wide players was to attack, defend and to try to score goals – it's a high tactical level and you've got to be spot on," Southgate said.

"That's an area Jack can get better at. What he did do was carry the ball as the game opened up with a bit more space and opportunity. 

"The impact he and Jarrod Bowen had was really important in those attacking areas. There's a good challenge there among those players, but we've got to keep pushing them."

 

Only half of Grealish's 22 caps for England have been starts, and asked if he sees the former Aston Villa star continuing to be an impact substitute or a regular in the long term, Southgate said: "He can do both.

"If we didn't trust him we wouldn't put him on the pitch with 20 minutes to go in the belief he can make a difference."

England were three minutes from successive defeats to begin their Nations League campaign when Kane converted his late penalty.

The visitors fielded their most experienced starting line-up under Southgate in terms of average age (27 years, 89 days) and most caps won (481 prior to kick-off).

With home games against Italy and Hungary still to come this window, Southgate is happy with the progress being made by his side just five months out from the World Cup.

"These series of matches are about improving and learning as a team and you can't get that against lesser opposition," he said. 

"The quality of the game tests every part of the player. I think we'll review it and see things we can get better at.

"Coming away from home and getting a good result was a challenge for the players. Top teams don't lose two on the bounce and they've responded to that in the right way.

"It's an important sign for when you are in a team – we've got seven or eight players still in there that got to a World Cup semi-final. 

"That's important as they put their bodies on the line and on nights like this, you have to do that to get a result."

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