Paul Merson has told Sky Sports that Leeds United midfielder, Kalvin Phillips, ‘shocked’ him with his performance for England against Croatia.
The outspoken TV pundit also warned that Aston Villa playmaker, Jack Grealish, doesn’t fit into Gareth Southgate’s plans and he ‘won’t play’ against Scotland on Friday.
Phillips produced a Man of the Match performance on Sunday as the Three Lions opened their Euro 2020 account with all three points, and whilst Leeds’ academy product thrived, Villa’s own boyhood fan wasn’t even brought onto the pitch.
Merson shared his thoughts on the duo, especially on Grealish’s situation under Southgate.
“In midfield, Kalvin Phillips’s performance shocked me if I’m being honest,” said Merson.
“But he has to be careful with his selection against Scotland as he does not want to bring unwanted pressure on himself by making too many changes.
“If he brings in Jack Grealish and he rips it up, people are going to want him to play every game. But he will not play against Scotland. If you play Phil Foden, Grealish, and Mason Mount all in the same team, then when will England be getting the ball back?
“The problem with playing Grealish, though, is the whole nation wants him to start as he is the ‘new Gazza’. He is a top-drawer player, don’t get me wrong, but I do not think he fits into Gareth’s plans.”
Many England fans will be left frustrated if Grealish isn’t used by Southgate on Friday, especially given that they will have more of the ball.
They will find it a lot harder to break down the Scots, who lost their opening match, so needing a Grealish on the pitch is a must.
He is one of a very few who has the ability to draw several opposition players close to him, draw fouls and then attack small spaces with his incredible close-control and ball-carrying ability.
Whilst England’s game was a lot focused on what they did without the ball against Croatia, it’s going to be different story when the old enemy pays a visit.