Claims that Jack Grealish is only starting for England because he is now a Manchester City player are completely wide of the mark.
That’s the view of talkSPORT pundit and former Aston Villa forward, Gabby Agbonlahor, who has taken aim amid suggestions Gareth Southgate displays bias towards the Premier League champions.
Southgate, himself a one-time Villa captain, handed Grealish a rare start in England’s latest World Cup qualifier.
Before sealing his high-profile move to City, the £100million man was used sparingly by the Three Lions manager during England’s run to the Euro 2020 showpiece – though he was summoned from the bench as and when Harry Kane and others needed a supply line.
Grealish has already impressed during his short time at the Etihad Stadium, too, but Agbonlahor insists he would have still been handed an international opportunity had he remained with his beloved, hometown club during the summer transfer window.
He said: “I think it’s just nonsense, isn’t it? People try and push things that aren’t there.
“Jack got into the England squad last season, every game he is going to get more trust from the manager, isn’t he?
“The manager is going to want to play him, and start him, because he’s been in the squad for however long he has been in there now. He’s probably got six or seven caps now, maybe a few more. He’s earned his place.
“If he was still at Aston Villa, it would be the same – he would be starting for England now.
“Phillips and Rice are both examples. They’re at clubs that you wouldn’t say are big clubs – so I bet Southgate is fed up of defending himself. Maybe next time he won’t even touch the subject.”