Jamie O’Hara has claimed that Gareth Southgate only picked Jack Grealish in England’s Euro 2020 squad because he “bottled” not picking him.
The debate has begun as to whether boss Southgate has made the right calls over his squad for the summer. On-loan West Ham midfielder Jesse Lingard has proved to be the headline absence, after his stellar form. Meanwhile, the removals of James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins sparked a reaction.
Instead, Southgate went for 10 defenders, including four right-backs, five midfielders and eight forwards.
Rio Ferdinand has blasted the decision to include Harry Maguire, who may not play the opening game against Croatia due to injury. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is also recovering after a groin problem.
A third Premier League captain in Grealish makes the team. However, O’Hara feels that Southgate has made the wrong decision in leaving out Lingard.
“You’ve got Jesse Lingard who has dropped out of it and, in my opinion, he’s the guy in form,” O’Hara told talkSPORT.
“He wasn’t playing at the start of the season and moved to West Ham in January and set it alight.
“He’s in great form, he’s fresh, he’s fit. Jack Grealish is not fit, Jordan Henderson is not fit, Harry Maguire is not fit, Luke Shaw picked up an injury.
“You’re talking about players who are not really fit but you have Jesse Lingard, who is 100 per cent fit, flying, wants to play, wants to be involved.
“Let’s be real about this right now. Gareth Southgate has picked Jack Grealish because he’s bottled not taking him.”
Of Southgate’s five recognised midfielders, Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips made the cut despite earlier fears over injury.
However, O’Hara insisted that he cannot see why the 25-year-old has made the squad ahead of Lingard.
Pundit baffled by Phillips, England call
“Lingard should be in front of Kalvin Phillips. You have to take people who are going to make a difference,” he added.
“What does Kalvin Phillips do that Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson can’t do?”
Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold made the squad after reports on Monday that he faced exclusion.
In fact, Southgate took issue to those reports with a lengthy rant.