Jack Grealish criticised the decision to award North Macedonia a penalty as England limped to a 1-1 draw in their final Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday.
Enis Bardhi’s spot kick was saved by Jordan Pickford, but the Trabzonspor midfielder scored from the rebound to put the hosts ahead five minutes before the interval.
Grealish thought he had equalised just over a minute into the second half, but the goal was chalked off after a VAR review determined the Manchester City winger was offside.
Moments after coming onto the pitch Harry Kane instigated the Three Lions’ only goal of the game as his header from a corner was diverted into the net by Macedonian midfielder Jani Atanasov.
“I don’t think we can be too hard on ourselves,” BBC Radio 5 Live. “These place are difficult to come to. They scored a penalty which I think was never a penalty. They had a couple of shots after that, maybe, but we could have had a penalty ourselves, we hit the woodwork and obviously my goal got chalked off.
“I think we dominated the game in what was a difficult pitch to play on and a hostile atmosphere – it’s a tough place to come.”
England are not in action again until March when they face Brazil and Belgium in a pair of friendly internationals ahead of next summer’s tournament in Germany.
“We all know it will be a lot tougher. That’s what we want to do though, going into the tournament, we want to play against the best opposition and test ourselves. There is no better way to do that than playing Brazil and Belgium. It’s two games we are all looking forward to.”
Asked if the message to fans after the game is to “stick with us”, Grealish pointed to the side’s unbeaten record in 2023.
“I think this year we have had a brilliant year, with eight wins and two draws,” he said. “I can imagine what a few people might say now in the press. Even yourself are now saying ‘stick with us’. What do you mean ‘stick with us’? We have drawn two games and won eight. We have had a great year and will go into next year very positive.”