England boss Gareth Southgate has taken a dim view of the comparisons between Jack Grealish and Paul Gascoigne.
England go into a Wembley double-header against Belgium and Denmark after a much-changed side overcame Wales 3-0 in a friendly on Thursday evening.
Grealish produced a man-of-the-match performance in that game on his first start for his country.
The Aston Villa captain’s impressive display prompted him to be likened to former England great Gascoigne.
Southgate though was keen to play down that comparison and feels Gascoigne is arguably England’s greatest ever talent.
“I am very conscious that I don’t want to be dampening the enthusiasm for Jack,” he said.
“I always answer honestly about people. When you are talking about Gascoigne, there’s not a player in English history that was at that level, in my opinion.
“I don’t want that to seem as a criticism of Jack. I just feel that Gascoigne is so unique and was such an incredible player, it’s a bit like talking about Bobby Moore.
“What we have to say is young players that come through, you shouldn’t burden them with tagging them and comparing them to somebody else. Their own talents are unique.
“I kind of understood some of the comparison but I just think with Gascoigne as an individual, it was just on another level to anything else I ever played with.”
Meanwhile, Southgate heaped praise on Marcus Rashford for his “phenomenal achievement” after being made an MBE and revealed the striker received a round of applause from England’s players and staff.
Manchester United forward Rashford received the honour for his efforts in helping secure free meals for vulnerable children during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of Sunday’s Nations League clash with Belgium, England boss Southgate told a press conference: “Firstly it’s an amazing achievement – wonderful for him and his family, the recognition.
“But he didn’t start this project to get the recognition.
“He started it because it was something he had been affected by, that he cared passionately about, and for somebody of his age to be able to make the difference he has is a phenomenal achievement.
“We’re all very proud of him. We gave him a special round of applause this morning.
“You can only marvel at what he’s achieved and the difference he’s made to kids who will understand the difference he’s made but also who, at the moment, won’t understand but will be incredibly grateful for him in years to come.”
Line drawn under incident
Southgate will welcome back Tammy Abraham and Jadon Sancho into contention for the next two fixtures.
The pair, along with Ben Chilwell, missed the win over Wales after breaching Covid-19 guidelines when they reportedly gathered for a surprise birthday party.
Southgate says he has now drawn a line under that incident.
“Tammy and Jadon both trained this morning, so everybody is available. They’ve obviously missed a bit of training so that’s a bit of a concern in terms of their load through the week,” said Southgate.
“But it’s done. That situation is done, they are back with the group and we move forward.”
Speaking about Chilwell, who will not play against Belgium due to a non-Covid-related illness, Southgate said: “Ben will be tested today and we will have to wait for the results of that tomorrow and then we can make a decision from there medically on that.”