Gareth Southgate is well aware of the Mason Mount memes and has hit back at Aston Villa fans with a light-hearted jibe over Jack Grealish.
The England boss has come in for plenty of stick on social media for his reluctance to play Grealish ahead of Mount.
Grealish impressed on his full debut last month but was on the bench for the Nations League games against Belgium and Denmark.
But Mount has performed well for England in recent games, scoring in the 2-1 win over Belgium, and is favoured for his pressing and work-rate off the ball.
Southgate joked as he addressed the criticism aimed his way.
“I suppose on that you’re referring to Mason, whose only crime is not to be Jack at the moment,” Southgate told The Telegraph.
“I’m also aware I should talk about Mason because then it keeps the memes going of me talking about Mason,” the England boss added.
“So we have got to fulfill 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.”
Southgate revealed why Grealish had not been at the forefront of his plans once he was called up for the first time in September – but now says his fine form is being rewarded.
“We knew a good player, but not in the form that maybe people were suggesting when you compared to how many goals Mason Greenwood had scored and the way Phil Foden had played at the end of lockdown, and we knew what Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling had produced,” Southgate added.
“So, now he’s now four goals in seven matches, plus one cleared off the line against Leeds, one cleared off the line against Arsenal, creating chances – the goal he created the other day where he’s holding Hector Bellerin off and able to find the pass while running at full tilt.
“I think we’ve challenged him on a couple of parts of his game and his response to that has been brilliant. I still think that some of the other players we’re talking about are very good players as well and I think it'[s a shame that, Mason in particular, there seems criticism of him at his club as well in a similar way.”
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