Jack Grealish given England warning as ex-Aston Villa captain has final opportunity to impress Gareth Southgate

Jack Grealish in training
-Credit: (Image: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate has not guaranteed former Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish a place in England's European Championships squad ahead of crucial warm-up matches this week.

The Three Lions' first match at the championships in Germany is now less than two weeks away, with the England manager due to confirm his full 26 man squad in five day's time. This will be cut down from the provisional group of 33 that have arrived at St. George's Park to take part in friendlies against Bosnia and Iceland.

This begs the question who will be playing for their place on the plane over the next few days. When asked specifically about Villa's £100m academy graduate - who reportedly returned early from holiday to begin training - Southgate remained totally coy.

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"I don’t think we’re defining that just yet," the England boss responded. "He has been really bright and he loves being here. He’s had a good energy about his training.

"It’s obvious this season he has not played as much as last season. I’m sure he would have liked that to be different but we know the qualities he can bring and the qualities he has and he is a player we enjoy working with and a character we enjoy having within the group."

Providing further clarification over the need to assess fitness more than anything, he added: "I think we know where we’re likely to be. Time is our friend this week. It’s worth using the time. Tomorrow’s game could throw up another physical issue and then we’ve got something else in the mix.

"We think we know who the best have been across the season, what we don’t totally know is how many we need to take or how many we can allow ourselves to take because of the cover we might need in other positions as well."

Grealish suffered from a hamstring injury early in the 2023/24 campaign, then found himself on the back foot competing for a left-wing berth alongside Premier League Player of the Year Phil Foden and new £55.5m signing Jeremy Doku. Overall he made 38 appearances, playing a total of 2,114 minutes and contributing towards only six goals.

This can be compared to a much stronger personal 2022/23 campaign, as he played 50 times totalling 3486 minutes, scoring five goals and assisting 11. His efforts playing the Pep Guardiola way ultimately helped Man City to the treble.

The 28-year-old's latest challenge also arrives alongside transfer links away from the Premier League champions. His manager at club level has downplayed such talk and called for his player to remain confident, though that has not prevented Grealish being rumoured to move to Vincent Kompany's Bayern Munich.

Villa were even favourites to bring home their ex-talisman earlier in the year, only three years on from his departure.

Also competing to be included in the England Euro 2024 squad are Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa. Both were involved in the national team's last friendlies back in March against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley Stadium.

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