Gareth Southgate wants Manchester City playmaker Jack Grealish to break his international duck and join other England forwards to score goals.
The 26-year-old became a fan favorite in the Three Lions’ race to the Euro 2020 final, with City paying Aston Villa a UK record £ 100million for his services shortly after the tournament.
Grealish will look to build on his early promises when Pep Guardiola’s side face Liverpool in the successful Premier League clash on Sunday before attention turns to helping England for the World Cup. next year.
The qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary await him and Southgate is hoping the 15-cap international will finally score his first goal for his country this month.
« I think he acknowledged with us that we asked him some things, in terms of when he first joined us, the dry cleaner, » Southgate said of Grealish, who did his senior debut in September 2020.
“I think the big challenge with us is that he has 15 scoreless games, so the big challenge is to start recording those numbers that our other wide players have been able to produce over a period of time. There is no reason that he cannot do this.
“He’s definitely in a better place physically. He is now able to play midweek games.
“When we had him at the end of the season, he could only train two days out of three, so a completely different situation from the European Championships, for sure. «
Southgate saw a shift in Grealish’s positional awareness under Guardiola, having received more license to move to Villa.
The 26-year-old is among City’s five players in England’s 23-man squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers and Southgate isn’t concerned that club-level competition will restrict playing time for its players.
« I think it’s good for us because none of them will be flogged, » Southgate said when asked if Grealish’s arrival had an impact on Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden’s playing time. in City.
“They’re all going to play on a team that plays fantastic, attacking football.
“They might not play individually as much as they would like, but I think they’re all going to play enough, so they’ll have that sharpness.
“If they don’t get as much football as they want, they will probably want to play with us and score goals with us more.
“A little of that is yet to be discovered because Phil has just returned from his injury.
“Good decisions for Pep with the team he has – we have some of those tough calls to make as well. «
This month will be the seventh international meeting since the coronavirus changed the landscape and comes amid new reports of vaccination rates in football.
The sun claimed on Saturday that at least five members of the England squad were refusing to be vaccinated, with World Cup organizers in Qatar considering banning unvaccinated players.
Asked before the publication of the article on the vaccination rate in the England team, Southgate said: “I don’t know – our medical team would know but they would not tell me who is and who is not.
“We’ll have an idea because there are going to be things where one group is going to go through one door and another is going to go through another over the next few months, so I’m not sure how we’re going to keep this medical confidentiality.
« I don’t think that with us it is going to affect us that much, because every time the players are with us, we will always be in a bubble and on a sports exemption, so I guess the biggest problem is going to be the players. returning to clubs or clubs traveling to certain countries.
“What we do know is that even with the vaccination it won’t stop people from catching it, so our concern for wider well-being is to help everyone get through this pandemic and I don’t see any other way than a huge immunization program frankly.
“I have not yet been informed by those who do not see it that way what the alternatives are.
“But from a team management point of view, our risk due to their age is more related to the fact that they will miss games because they catch it.
“But in fact, even if they are vaccinated, we still have to take these precautions because they can still catch it and therefore be excluded from the games, so it’s strange for us.
“I think we have to make the right representations because we have a responsibility to the general public to help people get through the virus, but I also understand that young people are going to have individual opinions on how they see it and they’re going to be influenced by what they read and what they see, so it’s a far from straightforward cycle. «