Grealish has 'learned a huge amount' at Man City, claims England boss Southgate

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Jack Grealish has "learned a huge amount" at Manchester City, according to England manager Gareth Southgate.

Grealish became the most expensive player in British football history last year when he moved to City from boyhood club Aston Villa for £100million, but only recorded 10 goal involvements in his first season at the Etihad Stadium (six goals, four assists).

He made 39 appearances in all competitions (31 starts) for Pep Guardiola's side, but did create more chances from open play (76) than every other City player apart from Kevin De Bruyne (94).

The 26-year-old came off the bench for England on Tuesday and impressed as the Three Lions were able to force a late 1-1 draw against Germany in Munich.

Speaking ahead of his team's next Nations League clash with Italy, Southgate told a news conference he has seen improvements in Grealish since his big money move to City, where he won the Premier League title.

"It's important for all of our players that they feel that they understand how we want to play," Southgate said.

"We give them a structure and we prepare them for the games, but within that, with their own talents and their own, we want them to come out. That's what makes the difference in the games.

"Jack had a fabulous impact on the game when he came on [against Germany]. I know he enjoys his football with us, but he also enjoys his football with his club, so I think it's important to say that. He has learned a huge amount being part of a team that has won the Premier League, which is massively important to him.

"He's a player we love working with. He's got a great mentality, a great character and I think he is a really good guy to have around the group. He has that joy having a football at his feet, which adds so much when you see players in training every day."

England will face Italy in a rematch of the Euro 2020 final on Saturday, and Southgate said the fact the game will be played behind closed doors at Molineux thanks to a ban imposed by UEFA after crowd trouble at Wembley before last year's final is an "embarrassment".

"If it is an embarrassment, it is for England as a country," he said. "A lot of the people that caused the problems I'm not certain were football fans.

"We spoke enough about it, we spoke about it after the final and when the punishment was first given, what I will say is the vast majority of our fans who travelled to Germany on Tuesday behaved brilliantly, a big thank you to them because maybe people were thinking something different but there were a huge majority who were a credit."

The England boss is expected to rotate his team as he looks for his first win of the Nations League campaign, and Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse is hoping he can take his chance if he is one of those fringe players selected.

"The manager highlighted before about seeing certain types of players in different types of games and hopefully if that opportunity comes then it's a good opportunity for me to showcase what I can do against a high level of opposition," the free-kick specialist said. "It will be a good opportunity to hopefully get some minutes.

"Everybody here is in the squad because they perform well for their club - and you can see that in training. The level is so, so high and having missed out on the European Championship squad, that was a big hurdle for me to overcome.

"I see this as a new challenge now, a new opportunity and I think that has given me a bit more of an incentive heading into this World Cup announcement that I want to be there, I want to be part of this fantastic group and hopefully replicate the success we had."

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