England boss Gareth Southgate says Jack Grealish can thrive under the pressure of expectation.

The Aston Villa midfielder earned the plaudits for his display in Sunday’s defeat to Belgium and he looks set to become an integral part of the Three Lions squad going forward.

Southgate said ahead of Wednesday’s Nations League qualifier against Iceland: “That is always important with any player. We are going to succeed or fail as a team and it is for everybody to contribute.

Jack Grealish, centre, has excelled for England(livesportcentre.com)
Jack Grealish, centre, has excelled for England (Nick Potts/PA)

“We have tried to ensure right the way through the last four years that it is collective expectation, we couldn’t put all the pressure on Harry Kane, we couldn’t put the pressure on Raheem (Sterling) or other players.

“We have to make sure that is the same with Jack. He has had a super start to his international career, I think he will be able to handle the attention, he thrives under pressure.

“He has got great courage with the ball so I don’t think it will phase him. Equally it is going to be the squad and team that brings us success as a collective.”

Southgate is preparing his side for a dead-rubber game that many people said should not go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gareth Southgate spoke of the pride players feel in representing their country (livesportcentre.com)
Gareth Southgate spoke of the pride players feel in representing their country (Ben Stansall/PA)

But the England boss defended the current international break.

“To represent your country is the greatest honour, of course club football is important but every player wants to represent your country,” he said.

“You don’t get the chance to do it very often – although it has been complicated this year, we have tried to manage that as best we can.

“No player has started more than five matches, we have played seven. We are representing 50 million people and we are trying to prepare for the European Championship.

“Add into that, players want to play, they want to win caps, score goals. We are trying to manage it as best we can.”


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