Gareth Southgate defends decision to leave Jack Grealish on bench during England’s defeat by Denmark

Miguel Delaney
·2-min read

Gareth Southgate said he didn’t bring on Jack Grealish in England’s defeat to Denmark due to Harry Maguire’s red card, as the side thereby needed pace up front.

The Aston Villa playmaker was the star of the international week’s opening win against Wales, only to be left on the bench for both Nations League games. That has prompted a lot of criticism of Southgate, and a debate over the use of Grealish. The manager maintained that the week had seen the 25-year-old get more attuned to the national side’s approach.

“He's done extremely well with us in terms of fitting in with the group,” Southgate explained. “He's got a much better understanding of how we want to play. Tonight was very unfortunate, any plans we had went out the window by going down to 10 because Harry [Kane] was doing such a good job of holding the ball up, winning headers, buying fouls for us. And we needed speed around him, we needed legs to be able to defend with 10 and Mason [Mount] and Marcus [Rashford] have done that really well and we were still a threat.

"We felt we needed the speed of Jadon [Sancho] and Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] either side because when you're having to defend and wait for your moment you've got to be able to counter-attack quickly. So they were the changes that we decided on tonight.”

Southgate meanwhile said he would not be leaving Maguire out for a break, as he feels it’s better “to play through” form like this. The Manchester United centre-half’s red card continued what has been a torrid spell since his arrest in Greece in the summer, with many wondering whether he needs a rest.

“I think the next few weeks are obviously going to be with his club. They will deal with that in the appropriate way. They've got good people there, experienced people and they'll assess where he is at. In my view would be that you've got to play your way through these moments. He's too important a player for them and us to think about resting him but that would be for Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] and his staff to make those decisions.”

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