Gareth Southgate has stated that Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish must be playing Premier League football if he wants to earn an England cap.
The 23-year-old, who is currently plying his trade in the Championship, is regarded as one of the best English players in the second tier of English football.
There have been many calls for him to be called up to Southgate’s squad, but given the level he is playing at, it has always gone against him.
Former Villa centre-back Southgate, who has selected a number of youngsters for England in recent years, mentioned why Grealish needs to be playing at the top level to be considered for a senior call-up.
“The difficulty is always, although we can see the quality,” Southgate told the Telegraph. “When the evidence of the opponent is a different level, that’s where it’s hard to directly correlate what that is going to look like at a level above.
“I’m not going to say we won’t pick a player from the Championship because that could happen but it’s far more difficult to assess his level. You see certain parts of the game but not others. Not the physicality at times, nor the tactical discipline.
“That’s another level in the Premier League: the speed, the pace. So, he’s a player we know all about, he’s a player we track. But that last bit of evidence that could give you confidence to pick him at the moment we won’t see. But as an ex-Villa man, I hope it’s not too long before we do see it.”
At this moment in time, Dean Smith’s side occupy the final play-off spot and they will be hoping to secure another top-six finish after reaching the play-off final under Steve Bruce last season.
After that defeat to Fulham last May, many supporters felt that Grealish would depart the club, but after a summer of uncertainty, he remained at his boyhood club.
If Villa find themselves in a similar situation in the summer then they will do very well to keep Grealish at the club because he is proving to be too good for the Championship.