JACK GREALISH finally got his England call-up then vowed to make sure he never misses another squad.
Gareth Southgate picked the Aston Villa ace for the first time after Marcus Rashford and Harry Winks withdrew from the Nations League double header in Iceland and Denmark.
The playmaker, 24, switched his allegiance from Ireland to England five years ago but had been repeatedly snubbed by boss Southgate.
In an exclusive interview with SunSport, Grealish said: “I don’t want to be on the outside looking in again. But I know for that to be the case I’ve got to make a good impression.
“It’s been a long time coming but this is something I’ve always wanted to do.
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“I thought it was going to happen five years ago when I took the decision to play for England. I’m so pleased it’s finally happened.
“My plan has always been to just get in that England squad for the first time, then make sure I do enough to stay in there.
“The hardest thing is getting your first call-up.
“Once you are in the squad, it’s up to you to make sure you either do enough in the training sessions or games.”
Grealish inspired Villa to survival on the final day of the Premier League and only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne created more chances than him last season.
But the Brummie, due in court in November after crashing his car during lockdown, was omitted from the original 24-man squad and it seemed he had little future under Southgate.
Wolves defender Conor Coady and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles were also called up on Saturday.
Grealish, who played for the Republic of Ireland’s junior sides, added: “Some of the players in the current squad have been around the England camp for many years.
“You just expect them to be there — and that has got to be the aim for every player.
“When I was first on the fringes of the Aston Villa team my target was to get in and stay in. So that is now the same with England.
“I don’t know if I will get the opportunity to show what I can do on the pitch.
“But if that doesn’t happen then I’ve got to use every training session to show what I’m capable of and I’m confident of doing so.”
Southgate defended his decision not to initially include Grealish seven days ago.
He said: “With Jack, the simple answer is Mason Greenwood. He’s competing against Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling.
“I know Villa have played him as an eight, I don’t see him in that role for us. He could play as a ten but we haven’t played with a ten.”
Grealish got his chance after Manchester United striker Rashford failed to recover from an ankle problem and Tottenham midfielder Winks was also ruled out.
Southgate feared he would lose more players as five had tested positive for coronavirus last week. But he was relieved yesterday as players reported at St George’s Park after another round of testing.
England will spend this week at the Staffordshire base before flying to Iceland on Friday.
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