Gary Neville claims the combination of Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling “brought an energy” to England that was missing with Mason Mount and Phil Foden in the team.
Mount missed Tuesday’s win over the Czech Republic as he’s been forced into isolation, while Phil Foden wasn’t included as he was at risk of suspension having picked up a yellow card against Croatia.
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Grealish and Saka have received widespread praise for the performances and Sterling scored the only goal of the game to secure England top spot in Group D.
And Neville claims the trio gave the whole team a much-needed lift.
He said: “The fact that England were already qualified before the game against the Czech Republic mean that it was a composed qualification and the performance last night was a much-needed boost. Grealish, Saka and Sterling’s performances gave everybody a lift in the first half and there was a lot more energy in the game and we looked a lot more balanced.
“We weren’t talking about Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, and a lack of creativity last night because of the performances of Grealish, Saka and Sterling. Phil Foden and Mason Mount are more static as players, they are both exceptional but they aren’t live wires so there was a bit more speed, pace and unpredictability as Grealish, Saka and Sterling dovetailed down that left-hand side.
“That brought an energy to the performance generally and, all of a sudden, the rest of the players looked energetic with them. Those three players moved around so quickly like bees that were buzzing and everything felt more enthusiastic.”
Neville also gave his thoughts on England’s potential last 16 opponents.
The Three Lions could face any of the sides in the ‘Group of Death’ – a worrying prospect for Gareth Southgate and his side.
Neville added: “The reality will kick in for these players later on in the week, they have a giant of a game on Tuesday. It’s an event in itself and one which would elevate confidence beyond belief if they were to win. But to win those games against a team like France or Germany takes something really special and spectacular.
“We would be massive underdogs against France, against Germany we have an opportunity, Portugal even more so. You cannot go more than a 50-50 chance against Germany and Portugal, for France I’d go 70-30 against, that is not being negative or pessimistic, it’s realistic.
“Look at the France teamsheet and tell me how many England players would get in ahead of Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Raphael Varane. They have a damn good team. All of England’s potential opponents have good players and while we should be confident we have to realise our opponents will be confident as well and that it will be tough to win.”
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