Grealish or Foden? Heskey discusses England's new Gazza ahead of huge Scotland clash

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England have waited 30 years for a new Paul Gascogine and, like London buses, two have now come along at once, with Jack Grealish and Phil Foden considered to be cut from the same cloth as a Three Lions legend.

The Aston Villa and Manchester City playmakers boast the same creative qualities and unshakable belief in their own ability that once helped a star of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 to cement a standing as a global superstar.

Both are hoping to follow in illustrious footsteps by facing arch-rivals Scotland in European Championship competition on Friday, but who is the most Gazza-esque and best fits the moniker being bestowed upon them?

Grealish or Foden?

Goal put that poser to Emile Heskey, with the former England international saying: "Good question. I would say the mould of Gazza, in the sense of where he plays, Grealish is more that. 

"I think Phil Foden suits the high-wing role more than an eight or a 10. He could do well as a 10 but I don't think the number eight suits him as much. Especially in the way that Man City play, I think they get the best out of him when playing him quite high. 

"Jack, he is suited more to midfield, I think he likes that role and having a bit of freedom to do what he wants when he gets the ball. I would say Jack more than Phil."

Can England find a role for both?

Foden started England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia, with Grealish an unused substitute in a 1-0 win, but can Gareth Southgate fit two mercurial talents into his team?

Heskey said: "I had them both in there but it worked so well with the way that Gareth did it. I wouldn't have had two sitting midfielders but he gave license for Kalvin Phillips to get forward and do his bit up there. I think it worked. 

"The thing about Jack is that he can unlock things - you give him the ball and you know things are going to happen. At some stage Gareth has got a dilemma of 'when do I actually bring him in?' 

"He does have the ability to unlock a defence at any given stage, on the counter because he has the pace or when you have stubborn defences and you need someone with that bit of brilliance. He has got that. At some stage Gareth has got to think about how he fits him into his team. 

"We haven't even talked about Marcus Rashford or Jadon Sancho. They are good dilemmas to have because you can't say that any of them are average players and they all have the ability to change a game."

What about up front?

Harry Kane England vs Croatia Euro 2020

Harry Kane remains England captain and a go-to man in the goalscoring department, but questions have been asked of whether he needs to be dropping so deep when donning the colours of his country.

On that, ex-Three Lions striker Heskey said: "I would love to see him on that last man. I think Harry has so many strings to his bow that he can play several different ways.

"I would love to see him on the last man because with the players we have got, just stay high. If you stay up high, you create space for creative players in that little gap - they get on the ball and then you come alive. 

"I get it because when you have been playing like that for the whole year with Spurs and you have been able to mix it up, you carry on doing that. Harry has scored goals, Harry creates chances and is a phenomenal player. I would like to see him stay a bit higher but he has more to his game so he has to pick and choose the right time to drop."

Bolting the back door

Tyrone Mings, England

While Kane is there to cause havoc in the final third, keeping opponents out at the opposite end of the field is just as important to any grand collective targets that are being set by England.

Tyrone Mings impressed when covering for the injury-enforced absence of Harry Maguire against Croatia and the Aston Villa man could keep his spot in the side alongside Manchester City centre-half John Stones.

"I love the blance because we haven't had that for a while," Heskey said of options at the back.

"Tyrone has definitely done himself justice, he had a fantastic game. He did the simple things right - defend, win the ball and the midfielders are there to do the creative stuff after that. He is that quick and generally when you make a mistake - I mean positional - you can make up for it with your pace. He has had a fantastic season and had a great game. 

"The balance was fantastic. I'm not saying that John doesn't have physicality, but his game is more centred around on the ball stuff. He is fantastic at that - good defender, great reading of the game, but you have got someone next to him who is an out-and-out defender and has the pace, that's fantastic."

Inspiring others

All of those in Southgate's 26-man party are hoping to inspire the next generation of talent, just as the success enjoyed by the Lionesses in recent tournaments has been doing within the women's game.

Heskey has a part to play in that, as an ambassador and coach with Leicester City's Women's team, and he is also involved in a youth programme designed to get more girls into football.

On that, a man who represented the Foxes, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wigan, Villa and Bolton over the course of a distinguished career said: "It's fascinating to see where the Weetabix Wildcats is going. Football is for everyone. If you can inspire a young girl, at whatever age, if they are inspired by Lucy Bronze or Nikita Parris, it's wonderful to see. 

"Football is for everyone and football is not just to be played at professional level, it's for every level - especially women and little girls who enjoy being out there kicking a ball. Then there is the social side of it where you are making friends, new friends that are not just at school but football as well - there is a different dynamic. 

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"I have been part of the Leicester City Women's team and have seen the Wildcats in and around Leicester and it's fantastic seeing the young girls running around and enjoying themselves. It's wonderful what they do."

Heskey is working with Weetabix, the official breakfast cereal of the England National team and proud partner of Weetabix Wildcats, an FA football programme for 5-11-year-old girls. Enter the 'Win With Weetabix' On-Pack Promotion to win a range of fab football prizes: https://www.winwithweetabix.co.uk/

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