Gareth Southgate to make major changes for England side against Scotland, says Paul Merson

Paul Merson doesn't believe Jack Grealish fits into Gareth Southgate's plans, but sees major changes for the Scotland game; the Magic Man has concerns at the back as well as England progress further at Euro 2020


Paul Merson says Gareth Southgate could make major changes to his starting XI for England's second Euro 2020 Group D game against Scotland.

Merson, who won 21 caps for England between 1991 and 1998, was full of praise for manager Gareth Southgate's team selections in Sunday's 1-0 victory over 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

However, Merson thinks the England boss should freshen up his line-up against Scotland, who lost their opening Group D clash 2-0 to Czech Republic at Hampden Park on Monday.

One player the former England forward does not believe will get picked on Friday, though, is Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish.

And while Merson was delighted with England's impressive display against Croatia, there is still one area of the team that is causing him sleepless nights…

Grealish does not fit into Southgate's plans

England's Jack Grealish during a news conference at St George's Park
Image: Merson does not believe Jack Grealish will start against Scotland

Southgate has to be careful with his selection against Scotland as he does not want to bring unwanted pressure on himself by making too many changes.

If he brings in Jack Grealish and he rips it up, people are going to want him to play every game. But he will not play against Scotland. If you play Phil Foden, Grealish, and Mason Mount all in the same team, then when will England be getting the ball back?

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Sterling played well, Foden showed glimpses, Harry Kane struggled as he kept on coming short into a packed midfield, where he was never going to find space, he needed to go the other way and stay up top if he wants to get involved with the team.

We just need to get him chances, but even if he does not score in his first four games of the tournament, he will still play in the fifth.

The problem with playing Grealish, though, is the whole nation wants him to start as he is the 'new Gazza'. He is a top-drawer player, don't get me wrong, but I do not think he fits into Gareth's plans. And if he plays him and he rips it up, then Gareth is under severe pressure again when he does not need to be under that pressure.
Paul Merson

But he has to change it up against Scotland, 100 per cent. He might swap a Foden for a Jadon Sancho, or Marcus Rashford.

The problem with playing Grealish, though, is the whole nation wants him to start as he is the 'new Gazza'. He is a top-drawer player, don't get me wrong, but I do not think he fits into Gareth's plans.

And if he plays him and he rips it up, then Gareth is under severe pressure again when he does not need to be under that pressure.

And that is why I do not think he came on against Croatia, as it was made for him with Croatia chasing the game 1-0 down. No one keeps the ball better than Grealish.

England must make their advantages count

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Marcus Rashford has no qualms with being left out of England's starting XI for their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia, believing the whole squad will be used at some point in order to be successful at the tournament

I think he will change it and I would as well. You have to remember we are hoping to go all the way, so you cannot expect the same 11 players to play all these games in this heat and not change it up.

And the one advantage we have over all the other teams is we may not have the best XI, but we have the best 23. I could change all the front players, apart from Kane, and we would not be weakened. I could bring in Rashford, Grealish, Jude Bellingham, and Sancho.

I could also bring in Ben Chilwell and Reece James in the full-back positions and again, it would not weaken the team and this is why we have a massive advantage. But you have to use that advantage as there is no point having all these players if you are going to keep on playing the same team.

And with England almost through, this is why I would experiment now. We should look to win every game as it is all about confidence, rather than worry about where we should finish in the group.

If you win your first three group games, then it does not matter who you play in the next round.

So just keep on winning.

The defence still concerns me though….

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Gary Neville says Declan Rice will be one of England's most important players this summer and sees him as almost undroppable

That team on Sunday won't win the Euros and I only mean that at the back against better teams, it will be dangerous, especially with a back four. But other defenders will come back and he could then go to a three and play horses for courses.

My worry, though, has always been and will always be at the back. I have no problems with the midfield and going forward.

We have Declan Rice, Mount, Bellingham, who is a phenomenal player sitting on the bench, Phillips who produced.

My worry though is when we were really on top against Croatia - because what we do then usually is fall asleep. It becomes too easy. And then all of a sudden the team breaks on us, like what happened against Austria and Romania.

So until we play someone who is defensively solid, I will always worry.

But going forward, no worries, and all Gareth has to do is get his selections right. You have to remember these players have played a lot of football this season.

But what I do like is Gareth will do it his way…

Sterling was always going to start

Image: Raheem Sterling was always going to start England's opening Euro 2020 game, says Paul Merson

Raheem Sterling runs without the ball, and that is where the goal comes from, so I was not surprised by his selection at all, I thought he was a shoo-in.

You cannot experiment with the first game, it is the biggest game. Gareth can experiment now though as we are virtually through.

Croatian selections all paid off

Image: Kalvin Phillips's man-of-the-match display against Croatia surprised Merson

Fair play to Gareth as he is getting pelters if that does not come off and that is what I like about him - confidence in his own ability to go: 'You know what, I'm going with what I believe and I'm not going to listen to the public. It is my job and I have to do this my way."

If we lose on Sunday, then he is in major trouble, so that was a big gamble.

If I'm Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell, though, I might as well go home now with Gareth having gone for a right-footed left-back in Kieran Trippier.

I also thought playing a back four was a big gamble, but we can't get carried away as Croatia were terrible and looked well past their sell-by date.

In midfield, Kalvin Phillips's performance shocked me if I'm being honest.

'Adams was tackling a wall!' The Boys of 96: England stars on Seaman's save, Gazza's goal and that celebration against Scotland

Mark McAdam has got the boys back together. The reporter has tracked down England's stars of Euro 96 - and, ahead of England vs Scotland at Euro 2020, they tell us the inside story of the famous clash between the two teams at Wembley 25 years ago.

Gary Neville, Jamie Redknapp, Gareth Southgate, Teddy Sheringham, Paul Ince and Stuart Pearce lift the lid on what it was like inside the England dressing room before that dramatic match, the key turning points in the contest, and how the victory ultimately propelled England to the semi-finals.

For more behind the scenes stories of England's adventures at Euro 96, you can watch The Boys of 96 on Sky Sports News and the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

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