Rio Ferdinand believes Gareth Southgate might be “saving” Jack Grealish for later in Euro 2020 after the Aston Villa man was left out of the England team against Croatia.
Many had expected Grealish to start England’s opening fixture of the tournament having impressed in the warm-up friendlies, but the 25-year-old was placed on the bench with Raheem Sterling preferred on the left wing.
“This is a long tournament and he might be saving him for another game,” Ferdinand said on BBC Sport, offering some sort of explanation for Southgate’s decision.
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“Tactically he might suit another game, which he [Southgate] would've said to him, I'm sure.
“But look at the last three or four England games. Creatively, who have we looked at to get us out of a whole when it's been a tight situation? Grealish has been the man who has unlocked things for us.
“Yes, there are players like Mount who can do that, but Grealish has been the go to guy."
Gareth Southgate leads the way into Wembley Stadium
Image credit: Getty Images
Southgate himself was questioned about his lineup before kick off, citing “continuity” as the reason for his decision to omit Grealish.
“That was our front six in our friendlies in March and that gives us continuity,” the England boss said. “I think they have an understanding and we have fabulous depth to bring into the game.
“We know Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish were really pushing for starting positions and we are going to need all those players because it's going to be a game in which - with this heat - substitutes are probably more important than ever.”
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