Ex-England international Dean Ashton has called on Gareth Southgate to start Jack Grealish against Italy, insisting the forward was ‘head and shoulders’ above his teammates.
The Manchester City star was brought on in the 72nd minute during England’s clash with Germany and changed the game as the Three Lions secured a 1-1 draw in Munich.
Like last summer’s Euros, the omission of Grealish from the Three Lions’ most recent starting XIs has become a talking point, especially given the lack of attacking inspiration in the 1-0 defeat to Hungary.
After receiving criticism for negative tactics, it was Southgate’s changes that positively impacted the match in Munich, with Jarrod Bowen also adding threat from the bench, and that pleased the England manager.
He said: “The game at that point is opening up and the freshness of not only Jack, but putting Raheem behind Harry, gave us that zip in transition to create space for Jack on the other side. Bowen similarly did really well.
“We’ve got a good squad and all four of the wingers did a good job for us.”
Southgate’s comments were echoed by Kieran Trippier, who said: “You can see the talent that we’ve got throughout the squad and it was always going to be important against Germany and teams like this that everybody has to be ready and has to know their roles.
“I thought Jack was outstanding when he came on.
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“The talent that he’s got he can be a game-changer so we’re delighted at how his introduction changed the game.”
talkSPORT host Adrian Durham named Grealish his man of the match despite featuring for just 18 minutes and with a game against Italy coming up on Saturday, ex-West Ham striker Ashton believes the winger is a dead-cert to start at Wembley.
Speaking on talkSPORT, Ashton said: “There was no such thing as a hangover for Grealish by the way, how good was he when he came on?
“He was absolutely magnificent.
“Such invention, such an injection of pace and energy into the side, Sterling moving into that role as a 10 and Bowen looked good when he came on.
“That’s what you want. As a manager you want players to come on and give you a real headache and I’d be very very surprised if he doesn’t start the next game against Italy.
“He was that good when he came on, honestly. He was head and shoulders above anybody else in that front four before he came on.
“He was outstanding and what we became accustomed to seeing when he came through at Aston Villa, it was taking a game by the scruff of the neck and mesmerising defenders with his work, but not only that, he made the right decision every single time.
“When to dribble and when to pass. The cross for Kane when Neuer saved brilliantly, honestly, he was so good when he came on.”
Ashton added: “Personally, I think he’s a wonderful talent. I talked about the trust out of possession that Gareth wanted in this game and they’re the decision that he’ll have to make.
“It’s not a gamble because Grealish is so good, but Gareth wants to be solid defensively. There’s no doubt about that because he’s shown it during his management career that he wants a solid team who are hard to beat, but when you’ve got a talent such as Jack Grealish…
“He has to play and why hasn’t he started because he made such an impact when he came on.”