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Jack Grealish is unique and provides hope but England system needs to suit him

Not even a good kicking was going to stop 'Jack the Lad' from taking the game to the best team in the world.

This was the moment Jack Grealish had been waiting for, his first competitive start for England following a public campaign to get him in the team.

And win, lose or draw, Grealish was determined to make the most of it.

He might be the people's choice, but who cares about that? Gareth Southgate needs him to be the right choice as he moulds a team capable of conquering Europe next summer.

With no Raheem Sterling or Marcus Rashford, Southgate kept faith with Grealish as his Three Lions looked to keep their Nations League dreams alive.

His reward was to see England go 2-0 down within the opening 25 minutes and leave Grealish's fan club looking like one that needs to be more careful what it wishes for.

Having a starring role in the trouncings of Wales and the Republic of Ireland is one thing, but taking on the No.1 ranked side in the world in their own backyard is another altogether.

To be fair to Grealish, he looked the most likely to unlock the Belgian defence in an otherwise fruitless and chastising first half for Southgate's men.

He pulled defenders into areas they didn't want to go, created space for others and wanted the ball with the sort of impish confidence that has won him so many admirers of late.

He came close to cancelling out Youri Tielemans's opener and then saw a powerful shot blocked. Unlike some of his team-mates, Grealish continued with his head up instead of down in a bid to spark a revival.

Grealish had started the day waking up to comparisons with Paul Gasgoigne, which to some, will feel a little disrespectful towards one of English football's greatest ever talents.

Yet Grealish remains a creative, exciting and different option for Southgate. Someone who, under normal circumstances, puts bums on seats and then lifts them off again with a moment of magic few others can produce.

He gets knocked down but jumps back up again with a smile on his face. He provides some hope when there appears to be none.

But if Grealish is the answer then what is the question – and can Southgate find the best system to accommodate and exploit the attacking midfielder's gifts?

On this evidence it is a conundrum Southgate needs to solve – and fast.

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