The 25-year-old has only played four times for his country, but his man-of-the-match display in the 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland last week – as well as his solid performance, even in the event defeat, in Belgium three days later – did nothing to dampen comparisons between him and one of England’s best creative midfielders, Paul Gascoigne.
Grealish has also put in impressive performances with Aston Villa this season – recording five goals and six assists in eight games – which has helped the club move up to sixth place in the Premier League.
Southgate isn’t concerned about how Grealish is going to cope with the extra weight on his shoulders, however, saying, “We’re going to succeed or fail as a team and it’s up to everyone to contribute.
“One of the things that we’ve tried to ensure, over the past four years, is that these are collective expectations. We couldn’t put all the pressure on Harry Kane, Raheem (Sterling), the other players… we have to make sure it’s the same with Jack.
“He had a great start to his international career. I think he will be able to handle the attention because he is a player who thrives under that pressure. He has a lot of courage with the ball so I don’t think that will bother him. .
“But also, it will be the team that will bring us success as a collective. “
Southgate defends the loss of the Belgian system
England host Iceland for their final Nations League game on Wednesday night – live Sky Sports Main Event from 7 p.m. – and will seek to bounce back from their disappointing defeat in Belgium on Sunday.
Despite another strong performance from Grealish, much of the reaction to England’s defeat centered on Southgate’s continued use of a three-man defense and helping to pull the best use of the team’s offensive players.
Some have suggested Southgate revert to a four-way defense – like the one used in one of his biggest wins as England manager, when they beat Spain 3-2 in Sevilla two years ago – but he defended his tactical decisions. .
He said: “I think we were very exciting to watch against Ireland. I think we were very exciting to watch against Belgium. Our job is to analyze the matches during and after and we look at the data.
” This is [away to Belgium] a performance as good as we have had against any of the great nations. What’s interesting is that there is a perception that we didn’t start the game well – in the first half hour we had more attempts at goal than Belgium.
“Once they were early they maybe sat down a bit, but I think part of that was because we pressed so well and they couldn’t get out.
“This performance was under contract with Spain, which everyone is talking about – it was our worst performance statistically.
“There were other things that we did brilliantly that night – we played with a lot of effort and we counterattacked really well. But the perception of this game is not reality.
“If you play these levels every week, you will lose games. If you reach the levels we got against Belgium, we will win matches. “
Our XI Euros from England – choose yours now!
With England’s hopes of qualifying from their Nations League squad, attention now turns to next summer’s Euro 2020 tournament and which will make it Southgate’s top XI.
Our team of writers have chosen their best teams from England for the competition. Does Rashford start? Is it a five or four man tusk? And where can Southgate get Grealish in?
Find out who they picked and why here, then use our team picker to pick your best England XI.