CHRIS SUTTON: England's attackers needed Grealish's magic in Iceland

CHRIS SUTTON: England’s attackers needed Jack Grealish’s magic during drab clash against Iceland… he can pick the lock in midfield like few others in Gareth Southgate’s squad

  • England needed the creative flair of Jack Grealish as they struggled in Iceland 
  • The Aston Villa captain is capable of making a difference in tight areas in attack
  • Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling need creativity behind them 

It was drab, dreary and like a pre-season friendly. But how many times have England taken part in these sorts of games and not gone on to win?

So let’s take the result as a positive and not be too dismissive of Iceland. Even a France team boasting Antoine Griezmann and Kingsley Coman only beat them 1-0 in European Championship qualifying courtesy of an Olivier Giroud penalty.

Iceland had only 22 per cent possession and wanted to frustrate Harry Kane, who looked flat and had little joy in front of goal.

Jack Grealish watched on from the sidelines as England struggled to break down Iceland

Raheem Sterling got the winner but England’s attackers need more help from the midfielders

With 20 minutes to go, I would have liked to see Jack Grealish introduced. There was a lack of creativity coming from midfield. 

Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse is a good footballer and a nice passer, and Manchester City starlet Phil Foden was making his international debut.

But while Iceland were sitting back, Grealish sat on the bench kicking his heels. The Aston Villa captain is capable of special things in tight areas and he would have backed himself to find Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho in those channels.

The likes of Harry Kane found it difficult to make an impact due to a lack of creativity behind

At the Euros next summer, if Southgate stands by 4-3-3, you’d expect the front three to be Sterling, Kane then one of either Marcus Rashford or Sancho.

They need to be supported by creativity in midfield. Teams can try to stifle you, as Iceland did on Saturday evening, and that’s when you need someone who can unlock doors. Grealish is of that ilk.

Kane was robbed of his 33rd England goal by an incorrect offside and it could have been a different game had that early strike counted. Maybe then Iceland would have shown some attacking intent. 

But on the plus side, Southgate’s players huffed and puffed and got the win in the end.

Grealish is capable of making a major impact in tight areas and he needs to be involved

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