Norwich City’s Jacob Murphy was more deserving of England U21s call-up than Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish

Consistent team selection has helped Jacob Murphy this season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Consistent team selection has helped Jacob Murphy this season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It probably shouldn't have annoyed me but seeing Jacob Murphy had been left out of the latest England Under-21 squad got me quite wound up.

To be more precise, seeing Aston Villa's controversial talent Jack Grealish picked ahead of Norwich City's wing wonder had me questioning the national selection policy.

Of course, had Jacob been in the Manchester United or Chelsea academy, he would already have 20 caps at U21 level. Big club favouritism from the FA is nothing new.

Grealish, however, is now playing at the same level as Jacob – and being rather overshadowed.

The other attacking players named in the squad picked by former Canaries academy coach Aidy Boothroyd, following Gareth Southgate's elevation to the senior set-up, are fair enough.


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Demarai Gray helped Leicester to win the Premier League, Nathan Redmond and Duncan Watmore are established top-flight threats and Chelsea's Tammy Abraham has been on fire during his loan at Bristol City so far, scoring 11 in 14 games.

Grealish? Two goals and one assist in nine Championship appearances, as well as a one-game suspension and a hefty fine imposed by his struggling club for his party lifestyle.

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Murphy? Five goals and one assist in nine Championship appearances, as well as praise from manager and supporters of his high-flying club for a succession of impressive performances.

I have nothing against Grealish, he clearly is a talented lad, but I fail to see how he can be selected ahead of Jacob based on this season's performances – let alone being told he needed to 'grow up' by then Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo just last month.

Presumably the FA persuading the Solihull-born 21-year-old to pass up a senior Republic of Ireland call-up, despite Irish U21 caps, and 'switch' allegiance has something to do with it.

From a Norwich point of view, manager Alex Neil has already said he is pleased that Jacob has not been called up, allowing him to recharge his batteries during the international break.

Despite plenty of progress Murphy is not yet the finished product and has plenty of room for improvement, which is a good thing given how well he has performed already.

Yet with nine goals in 40 League One games when on loan at Coventry last season, and previous caps at U18, U19 and U20 level for England, City's FA Youth Cup winner really did deserve a call-up.

So instead of a trip to Kazakhstan tonight and a clash with Bosnia & Herzegovina in Walsall on Tuesday, Jacob can focus on how he can help keep City's promotion push on course.

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