Jack Grealish has discussed Phil Foden’s role in the England team after Gareth Southgate chose to leave him on the bench in Friday’s 0-0 draw with the USMNT.
Foden has scored eight goals for Manchester City this season but didn’t feature at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Grealish plays with Foden at club level for Manchester City. He, more than anyone, knows how it feels to be the nation’s darling.
The 27-year-old was in a similar position to Foden at last summer’s European Championship, being the attacker everyone wanted to see.
It’s seen many speculate about Southgate’s relationship with his players. Grealish passionately denied claims of any potential rift in a recent interview with BBC Sport.
He explained per the Sun: “People always used to say, ‘Ah, he’s got a problem with Jack’ last year or two years ago, and then I come on, and it’s like, ‘Oh, he likes Jack now, who is it next?’.
“And then I know people were saying, ‘He doesn’t like Madders (James Maddison)’, and now Madders is in, so it’s fine with him, and then Phil didn’t play, so it’s like, ‘He’s got a problem with Phil’.
“He hasn’t got a problem with anyone. He speaks to all of us the same.
“If you’re not playing – Phil didn’t play the other night – he’s still the same with Phil as he is with me, when I came on, or Harry Kane.
“He’s not got a problem with anyone. If he did have a problem with someone, you’d know about it.”
England are blessed with a wealth of attacking talent to call upon.
On Friday, it was Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka who played on either side of captain Harry Kane.
Southgate opted to replace them with Grealish and Marcus Rashford to try and get a foothold in the game.
It meant that Foden and Callum Wilson were left on the bench, with Maddison out of the squad through a knee injury.
Grealish has sympathy for Southgate when it comes to getting all his attacking talent on the pitch.
For the sake of balance, several players will miss out every game. He admitted: “You look at our attack and I’m not going to sit here and be big-headed and say we’ve got the best attack in the tournament, but it’s certainly up there.
“You look at the seven or eight attacking players we have and everyone brings different stuff to the game, so it is difficult for the manager sometimes.”
England will qualify for the round of 16 as long as they avoid a four-goal defeat to bitter rivals Wales.
Meanwhile, the USMNT and Iran know whoever wins their game will qualify if England beat Wales.