England boss Gareth Southgate has joked he will continue talking about Mason Mount in public to “keep the memes going” – amid suggestions he prefers the Chelsea star to Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.
Mount and Grealish will both be hoping to start for the Three Lions in their friendly clash with Ireland this evening, although Southgate is yet to field them in the same line-up.
Despite Grealish’s stunning form over the past year, Mount has often pipped him to a place in the side, which has sparked accusations of favouritism amongst the Villa faithful in particular.
And a clip of Southgate changing the subject to Mount when asked a question about their star man last month quickly went viral.
“I’m very pleased with [Grealish]. I’m sure he’ll be delighted to have had his first start as well,” he said after Grealish’s full England debut against Wales in October.
“He’s a different type [of player]. Mount coming on in that similar position again I thought had an excellent impact on the game.”
But ahead of England’s showdown with Ireland, Southgate has joked that he will not stop praising Mount in order to “keep the Villa fans happy” on social media.
When asked if Grealish deserves a competitive start for England, he said: “I suppose on that you’re referring to Mason, whose only crime is not to be Jack at the moment.
“I’m also aware I should talk about Mason because then it keeps the memes going of me talking about Mason.
“So we have got to fulfil all those requirements just to keep the Villa fans happy, especially. What would they be able to do on social media if they didn’t have that opportunity? So, yes, of course I’m aware Jack’s playing well.”
Despite widespread comparisons between them, Mount has insisted there is no rivalry between him and Grealish at England.
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“I’d never look at it as a rivalry. We are two different players and we do different things. We are two team-mates who want to do the best for each other, for the team and for the country as well.
“We can play in different roles. I look at the way he’s been playing this season, he’s been unbelievable and we both want to bring that to the next three games.”
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