Jack Grealish deserves a first England call-up this week.
And, according to Aston Villa legend Tony Daley, if included in Gareth Southgate’s squad on Tuesday – for the Nations League trips to Iceland and Denmark – it could even persuade Grealish to stay in the Midlands.
Despite turning his back on representing the Republic of Ireland five years ago, the Villa skipper, 24, has yet to be selected for a senior Three Lions squad.
But Daley, capped seven times by England in the early 90s, is convinced long-time Manchester United target Grealish is now primed to deliver on the international stage.
Southgate is expected to name a larger-than-usual squad for next month’s away clashes as players will need to be rotated with such a small break between last season's conclusion and the start of 2020-21.
That should ensure Grealish is finally picked – especially after his inspirational post-lockdown displays helped Dean Smith’s men beat the drop.
The midfielder scored a cracker in the vital 1-1 draw at West Ham on the final afternoon – just one of many moments, says Daley, when he rose to the challenge of saving his beloved club.
The ex-Aston Villa winger, 52, declared: “I agree Jack now warrants a place in the England squad. He gave consistently good performances last season.
“When he was in the Championship, there were doubts if he could do it in the Premier League. Fair enough. But he’s now proved he can.
“Yes, there were ups and downs last season but people need to understand the immense pressure on his shoulders to keep Villa up. Everyone looked to Jack to deliver every game.
“But, when it mattered in the final few games, there was this new maturity about Jack, which really came to the fore.
“He didn’t try to do everything on his own. He realised Villa had to play as a team – and you could see how others around him responded to that.
“It seems England will have a bigger squad than normal next week. That means Jack must get in, surely? I believe he’s done enough to be picked in this squad.
“He’s shown what a talent he is at Villa – and he’ll go up another level with the national team, with even better players alongside him. “
Of course, some argue that is exactly why Grealish must move to an elite Premier League club, where his dazzling skills will be fully appreciated.
Daley, however, suggests that if he does receive the nod from Southgate, Grealish may decide not to leave Villa this summer, after all.
“If Jack goes, he’ll have everyone’s blessing here at Villa because of what he’s just done for the club,” added Daley, a leading professional fitness coach.
“But if he’s been picked for England already, he might think he’s better off staying with Villa, where he’s settled and plays every week.
“The Euros are coming up next summer – and Jack needs to be playing to stay in Southgate’s plans.”
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