Gareth Southgate reveals what made Jack Grealish’s Euro 2024 axe even more painful

England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed his 26-man squad for the upcoming European Championship, with the omission of Man City star Jack Grealish the headline news

Gareth Southgate admitted Jack Grealish was left “devastated” after being ruthlessly axed from England’s Euros squad.

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Grealish, Harry Maguire and James Maddison were the big name casualties from Southgate’s brutal cull to reduce the 33 man training squad to 26 for the tournament.

Maguire and Maddison both said they were “devastated” in heartbreaking social media posts with Southgate admitting he feared the Manchester United defender would not be fit for any of the Group matches.

But Grealish was the big shock and was only told AFTER training on Thursday and the agony of being made to sweat on his place made it even worse with Anthony Gordon having been a fitness doubt.

Southgate – who also axed Jarrel Quansah, James Trafford, Jarrad Branthwaite and Curtis Jones – admitted it was a major decision even if they remained respectful.

England boss Southgate said: “I think you put yourself in the shoes of a player. You put yourself in the shoes of a parent. You understand that for these players this is a devastating moment. It can be career changing for those who are going.

“So you give the decision making process all the attention it deserves and then you try and deliver it as humanly as possible. Then you have accept the person receiving could take it in any number of ways. I have to say all of them were really respectful.

“I tried to tell them all as early as I could. I knew exactly last night where we were with James and didn’t want him to be hanging on and training when I knew I could tell him.

“I couldn’t do that with Jack until this morning because there might have been someone else who might not have come through.

“Look, I think every player knew there was a certain amount of jeopardy if I’m frank. The younger ones, we’d had some of those conversations before they arrived – that this is the likely plan but come in, have the experience. So for them it was different.

“For some of the others they’ve been with us a long time, big characters within the group and clearly when you’ve worked with guys for a while you know there’s a different dynamic to it, different level of expectation, different relationship between us.

“And you accept that can be damaged short term or long term. And I understand that but I have to make strong decisions. I’ve never backed away from that and I never will.”

Meanwhile, Southgate confirmed that Ivan Toney made the England squad because of his reputation as a penalty specialist. The Three Lions boss has decided to take THREE centre forwards to the Euros with Ollie Watkins and Harry Kane also going.

That is a big gamble even with a 26 man squad when Kane will start every game when fit but Southgate admitted a potential penalty shoot-out means Toney is a big addition. Brentford striker has scored 29 from 31 penalties and is ice cold from the spot.

Southgate added: “It’s an obvious added bonus that he brings. But he’s different to Ollie. He links differently, I guess he’s a closer profile to Kane in that he’s going to link and play passes for other players.

“Ollie runs in behind more, presses really well, so they do just have different qualities. But clearly Ivan is one of a few in the squad that now have good penalty-taking records.”

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