Grealish had himself come on as a substitute midway through the second-half, replacing Bukayo Saka, and had a positive impact.
However, he was withdraw during half-time in extra-time, just after Harry Kane’s goal had put the Three Lions 2-1 ahead as Kieran Trippier was brought on to help see the game out.
That involved a shift in formation to a back-three, meaning Southgate had to sacrifice an attacker, and with Raheem Sterling’s pace still a vital outlet, the England boss was left with a choice between Grealish and fellow substitute Phil Foden, who had only made his entrance during the first-half of extra-time.
“He’s fine,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5Live. “He understood, he was terrific when he came on he gave us momentum but we know when they’ve gone behind in games they’ve thrown four men up front so we needed to get an extra defender on just to make sure we were more solid and I wanted to keep Raheem’s [Sterling] speed on so it meant taking one of the two boys off who had just come on.”
Working on ITV’s coverage, former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane hailed the change as evidence of Southgate’s ruthless streak.
“He is a nice guy, but you have to be nasty to work at this level,” Keane said. “Jack will have to look at the bigger picture. Gareth is nasty enough to make these decisions, as we saw tonight.”