Dele Alli, at only 19 years of age has already established himself as a key player for England despite only earning his first cap in November. Roy Hodgson opted to rest the Tottenham star during England 2-1 loss to Holland on Tuesday and captain on the night, James Milner has stressed the importance of managing the nations expectations of the youngster.
Milner believes the Spurs youngster needs to be shielded from unreasonable levels of hysteria within the media, suggesting the creative midfield can become 10 times better if given the time to flourish.
“Good as he is at this moment, he can be 10 times better and he will. He has a great attitude and will keep working hard and keep improving but we need to take that spotlight off him and let him develop and improve.”
“Hopefully you guys will stay off him a bit and try not to big him up as much. The manager knows when to play him and is not overusing him… To make the step up and the impact he has this year is brilliant.”
Milner was keen to compare Alli’s impact this season to that of fellow Tottenham star, Harry Kane’s emergence last season. Similarly, Aston Villa fans have highlighted Alli’s ascension as a carbon copy of the performances of Jack Grealish, with many anticipating Euro 2016 to be the tournament Grealish would announce himself on the international scene.
It has been less than a year since Grealish was the subject of an international tug-of-war between the Republic Of Ireland, the country he had represented at international level since he was 14, and England, the country of his birth.
The Aston Villa starlet ultimately decided, after delaying his response for over a year and having publicly rejected a call-up to play for Ireland’s senior team, declared his preference to play for England last September.
That decision, made largely on advice from his agent, Jonathan Barnett and his then club manager Tim Sherwood, looks more and more foolhardy with every passing minute Dele Alli spends in an England shirt.
Grealish, 20, has not even been picked for a squad, let alone made an appearance in an England shirt.
Had Grealish remained loyal to Ireland, he almost certainly would have been playing for the senior team, would definitely already have several international caps and would more than likely be a part of the squad for this summer’s Euros.
He had the potential to be the centrepiece of Martin O’Neill’s future plans for the Irish and could have had the entire setup built around him.
However, having turned his back on the emerald jersey, Grealish is now in the international wilderness and is staring Championship football in the face – he is unlikely to get anywhere near the England setup for the foreseeable future, given the emergence of Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
Former Tottenham Manager Harry Redknapp believes that Grealish should be looking to learn from Alli’s example despite being a year older; Redknapp was quick to praise the Tottenham starlet, who does his talking on the pitch, and doesn’t get involved in any off-field matters:
“The kid at Aston Villa who’s a talent, Jack Grealish, needs to look at Alli,”
“He’s doing it week in, week out and you don’t hear anything bad about him. He’s gets on with his football. Grealish is a great talent, but he looks like unless he sorts himself out he’s going to waste that great talent, which would be a shame.”
For the time being at least, it seems that Grealish will have to sit back and admire Alli’s talents at Euro 2016 at home, like the rest of us… fortunately he doesn’t seem to mind doing that too much.
Dele alli.. What a player ⚽️
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) November 17, 2015