England boss Gareth Southgate has admitted that Jack Grealish needs to be playing his football in the Premier League if he is to increase his chances of a call up.
The Aston Villa midfielder switched his alliegance from the Republic of Ireland to England in 2015 but is yet to earn a senior cap.
Grealish is no longer age-eligible for England’s Under-21 side and despite having an impressive season, he has not been included in Southgate’s plans with the manager instead deciding on calling up West Ham’s Declan Rice and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi.
While Southgate stopped short of admitting that he will never call up a player from the Championship, he admits it is difficult to judge a player’s level compared to those who are playing in the Premier League.
Villa find themselves in sixth place in the Championship table with Southgate, a former player joking that the would like to see them back in the top flight.
Southgate’s comments could represent a huge boost for Tottenham should they wish to continue their pursuit of the 23-year-old in the summer transfer window.
Grealish was heavily linked with a move to Mauricio Pochettino’s side before the campaign started, but a move failed to materialise (talkSPORT).
Southgate told The Telegraph: “Jack worked with us in the Under-21s briefly. The difficulty is always, although we can see the quality. 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. With Callum [Hudson-Odoi], he’s playing Europa League, he’s playing Premier League, that does make a difference.
“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.”
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