The Three Lions failed to make the UEFA Nations League finals after a disappointing defeat to Belgium in Leuven on Sunday.
Jack Grealish made his first competitive start for England just a month after his first senior call-up where he featured against both Iceland and Denmark respectively.
The 25-year-old’s efforts should not be overshadowed by the match result, Grealish looked at ease against one of the world’s best teams.
He won seven fouls in dangerous areas for England and has now stamped his mark on this team, squashing any discussions questioning his place in the squad.
Despite a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium, the England manager could do nothing but praise the Villa man.
“I thought Jack Grealish had an absolutely outstanding game. Losing Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, we lose a lot of speed. But I can’t fault the attacking play until the last chance.
“I saw what I knew I would see from Jack, someone with the bravery to play. He took the ball in tight areas, his technique was good, we knew he would buy a lot of free-kicks. I thought he was outstanding – he should be delighted. I explained to him what we wanted to see when we brought him in in September.”
When asked if Grealish had moved himself up the order for future games, Southgate told Sky Sports: “Yes, 100%. Today was a great game for us to see him in and to see the level. I could not speak highly enough about his performance.”
After securing a new five-year deal at Villa Park in September, Grealish has really grown and become much more confident in his play.
Breaking into the senior England squad has given him all the motivation he needs as attentions now turn to next summer’s postponed Euro 2020 tournament.