Grealish, Foden and Trent must find a way to earn Southgate’s loyalty as the England side begin to look like a closed shop

IS Gareth Southgate too loyal?

Is his England team stagnating instead of developing and progressing?

Will Southgate’s starting lineup for A-list games become some kind of closed shop?

England only woke up in the 1-1 draw in Germany when exciting wideman Jack Grealish came on for one of his guest appearances

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England only woke up in the 1-1 draw in Germany when exciting wideman Jack Grealish came on for one of his guest appearancesPhoto credit: Rex
Phil Foden is currently doubtful with injury but has the class to show Gareth Southgate he's worthy of a World Cup start

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Phil Foden is currently doubtful with injury but has the class to show Gareth Southgate he’s worthy of a World Cup startCredit: PA

The Three Lions boss denies these allegations and insists he is “open minded”.

But ten of the 11 players who lost last summer’s EURO final were in the starting XI in Germany’s 1-1 draw on Tuesday night – only the injured Luke Shaw was absent.

And seven of these eleven were also scheduled for the World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia at the 2018 World Cup.

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There’s a growing sense that others, notably Jack Grealish and Trent Alexander-Arnold, aren’t getting a fair crack of the whip.

Meanwhile, established Southgate favorites – notably Harry Maguire, but also Kieran Trippier, Jordan Pickford and Mason Mount – feature often despite their form and will certainly start at the World Cup in Qatar.

When asked if he was too loyal, Southgate replied: “No. We’re totally open-minded.

“Bukayo Saka came from the pack and we didn’t hesitate to send Jude Bellingham (as an early substitution on Tuesday) into the fight, which was an incredible experience for him.

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“But to win big games it takes a lot of qualities. It’s not just about talent. You must have expertise and awareness.

“Germany tested us at such a high level tactically off the ball, with the moves and runs they made, so reading the game and communicating on the pitch is vital.

“This group of players has played a lot together and on those nights it’s important.

“Of course we want to try to develop others and bring that competition and give them the similar experiences that Jude had indirectly (in Germany). But that is a process.”

It’s a difficult balancing act for Southgate, or any international manager.

When deadlines are tight, especially in elite tests such as an away game in Germany, one is always tempted to rely on the tried and tested.

And teams that win tournaments – which must be England’s goal after a semi-final and a final – tend to have a slew of internationals under their belt.

It was Italian nous and game management that saw them win against the Three Lions at Wembley last summer, rather than superior talent.

Suspicions are growing that Trent Alexander-Arnold didn't have a fair chance

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Suspicions are growing that Trent Alexander-Arnold didn’t have a fair chancePhoto credit: Getty
Harry Maguire remains an integral part of England centre-back despite his woeful season at Man Utd

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Harry Maguire remains an integral part of England centre-back despite his woeful season at Man UtdPhoto credit: Rex

England is not an old team. Of those who have played at the Allianz Arena, only Walker and Trippier are over 30.

But they risk becoming stale, as Southgate’s commitment to supporters of his Russian campaign never falters.

Central defender Maguire is the epitome of that. Despite a shocking season at his club Manchester United, he remains a staunch England regular.

Eric Dier, who enjoyed a superb season with Tottenham, didn’t even make the squad for this current four-game Nations League series.

Southgate’s side were largely weak in Munich until the substitution of Grealish 18 minutes from time gave them a fresh boost in attack that allowed them to take a point from Harry Kane’s late penalty.

The Grealish debate has raged long and loud for the past two years – and it lies at the heart of another question mark over Southgate. Is the England boss too cautious and conservative?

Why doesn’t he fully trust the £100m Manchester City man?

Is it just true that Grealish is more influential as a substitute when opponent’s legs are tired and the game is tighter?

Or is it more precisely that, as Southgate seems to believe, Grealish is most effective as a captain in a smaller team – like Aston Villa – rather than for England or City, where he hasn’t been a regular for Pep Guardiola’s champions either.

Grealish will certainly need a stellar start to next season if he is to squeeze into the starting XI at Southgate in Qatar this winter. His City teammate Phil Foden is perhaps a more likely candidate.

But if, as it seems likely, the team that started on Tuesday is going to be very similar to the team that starts the World Cup against Iran on November 21, Southgate should have concerns.

It would be ironic if Grealish, such a popular buzz trader, were to face off against the Italians behind closed doors in Molineux.

England played poorly, being overly cautious and struggling to deal with Germany’s fast, flowing attacks.

Yes, they were tired after a tough season, but the Germans were no different.

The back five of Pickford, Trippier, Maguire, John Stones and Walker all started against Croatia in Moscow.

You are the backbone of Southgate’s team. Along with Kane and Raheem Sterling, they are almost permanent fixtures when available.

Due to the nature of this post-season block of four games in 11 days, there will be changes for England’s home games against Italy on Saturday and Hungary on Tuesday.

This chance to experiment should be welcomed, although the exciting duo of Foden and centre-back Fikayo Tomori – title winners with City and AC Milan respectively – are in doubt.

It would be ironic if Grealish, such a popular buzz trader, took on the Italians behind closed doors in Molineux this weekend.

One thing is for sure, Grealish, Foden, Alexander-Arnold and the rest of England’s fringe players must find a way to earn Southgate’s loyalty.

Because once the England coach becomes loyal, he stays loyal.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5521246/england-southgate-grealish-foden-alexander-arnold-kidd-comment/ Grealish, Foden and Trent must find a way to earn Southgate’s loyalty as the England side begin to look like a closed shop

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