Southgate backs 'courageous' Grealish to shine for England

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(Reuters) - England manager Gareth Southgate has backed midfielder Jack Grealish to thrive under the spotlight and forge a successful international career after his performance in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by Belgium in the Nations League.

The 25-year-old Aston Villa midfielder was England’s standout performer in his first competitive international start, troubling the top-ranked Belgians with his trademark runs and creativity.

“We have tried to ensure in the last four years that it is collective expectation, and that we didn’t put all the pressure on (Harry) Kane, on Raheem Sterling,” Southgate told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s home game against Iceland.

“We have to make sure that is the same with Jack. He has had a super start to his international career, I think he will be able to handle the attention, he thrives under pressure.

“He has got great courage with the ball so I don’t think it will phase him. Equally it is going to be the squad and team that brings us success as a collective.”

Jordan Henderson and Sterling will miss Wednesday’s game but Southgate confirmed England had no fresh injury concerns, with fullback Ben Chilwell set to be monitored after suffering from back spasms.

England are third in Group A2 with seven points from five games and cannot qualify for the Nations League Finals.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis