Noel Whelan insists there are “question marks” over the attitude of Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish after he was snubbed for an England call up.
The former Premier League striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes the playmaker’s breach of social distancing rules during the UK-wide lockdown will have impacted Gareth Southgate’s decision.
The 24-year-old was a surprise absentee from the Three Lions’ squad this week, with Football Insider pundit Alan Hutton revealing to the BBC he could tell the Villa star was “devastated” to be left out.
Whelan believes that, on footballing ability alone, Grealish should have been included but suggests that his misdemeanours have led to his exclusion.
Asked why he thought Grealish had been snubbed, Whelan told Football Insider: “Well I think there’s question marks over what he was like over the lockdown, I think that can be only the case, quite frankly.
“His stats and game time, he’s well above (Mason) Greenwood and Kalvin Phillips so when you look at what he produced throughout the Premier League season, you would say he deserves to be there – he’s higher than Maddison and all these other players.
“It can only come down to his behaviour while he was in lockdown, it can’t be anything else because if you talk about footballing ability, the stats say it all. I think Gareth Southgate has to stay strong on the matter like he has done with Harry Maguire.
“He’s not afraid to drop people and leave people out the squad.”
Grealish scored eight goals and chipped in with a further six assists in the Premier League as Aston Villa narrowly avoided the drop on the final day of the season.
Having swapped allegiances from the Republic of Ireland, he played seven times for England’s under-21s and was handed his debut by Southgate.
In other Aston Villa news, Alan Hutton has been left blown away by a double striker hunt.