By Graham Hill
FORMER England striker Dean Ashton says it is ‘harsh’ to deny Jack Grealish a Three Lions call up just because he is playing in the Championship.
Southgate has made it clear that the Villa skipper will only be considered for England if he is getting regular Premier League football.
But that goes against his decision to bring in Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi – who has yet to start in the top flight – and keeper Jack Butland who slipped into the Championship when Stoke City were relegated last May.
Grealish has been back less than a month after a long injury lay off.
But he has shown inspirational form to take Villa back into the top six.
That, however, as not enough for Southgate who says Grealish needs to be playing at a level about.
The Villa favourite almost joined Tottenham last summer and is expected to be on their radar again 12 months on.
West Ham have also been keeping a close eye on Grealish who could yet return to the Premier League with Villa who are desperate to wipe out the disappointment of last year’s Championship play-off final at Wembley.
But Ashton says he was puzzled by what Southgate – a former Villa captain – said.
He told the Daily Express: “I’m surprised at Southgate’s comments because Derby’s Mason Mount was given a chance as well as Jack Butland – I know he’s proved himself in the Premier League but he’s in the Championship as well.
“I think it’s slightly harsh that comment.
“But there’s no doubt Jack Grealish will be a Premier League player, whether that’s with Aston Villa next season or without.
“That’s a given, because he has to make that step. He’s more than good enough.
“I think he’ll be desperate to play in the Premier League, especially looking at the young players that have been picked for England,
“He’ll be desperate to be one of those that’s given a chance.”