Gareth Southgate has hit back in the row over Jack Grealish's controversial England snub.
Critics, backed by Grealish himself, suggested the Three Lions boss had ignored his own selection criteria when picking Leeds star Kalvin Phillips ahead of the Aston Villa skipper.
Immediately after the squad to face Iceland and Denmark in the Nations League came out, Grealish liked a tweet from Sky Bet comparing his Premier League record last season to that of Phillips, who has NEVER made a top-flight appearance.
But Southgate has dismissed the post – and stats – as totally irrelevant because Grealish is an attacking playmaker and Phillips a holding midfielder.
The England supremo said: “I'm grown up enough to understand that players are going to be disappointed if they're not selected.
“But you can’t compare selecting Kalvin with selecting Jack – it’s a different position. Jack’s not a defensive pivot. In my view, he’s a winger or a number 10.
“We have fantastic competition for places in that area of the pitch. I just see others being ahead of Jack at the moment.”
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And Southgate then scotched the idea that Grealish, who represented the Republic of Ireland up to Under-21 level before switching allegiance to England five years ago, could reverse that decision if he continues to miss out under him.
Ex-Villa defender Southgate, who did select Grealish when Three Lions Under-21 coach, added: “I don’t think that’s possible as Jack had a transfer association when Roy Hodgson was manager.”
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