THERE was a time when Jack Grealish might have gone off the rails after an England snub.
But since boss Dean Smith handed his fellow lifelong Aston Villa fan the armband, Grealish, 24, has been the club’s own Captain Sensible!
As he prepared to welcome back his leader against Newcastle tonight — after four weeks out with a calf injury — Smith admitted Grealish may not quite have the leadership skills of assistant boss John Terry.
But there is no doubt Villa’s skipper is on the way to becoming a captain, leader and legend in his own right.
When Grealish is in the team Villa average two points a game — but when he is out that is cut to just one point. Smith said: “I stand with JT sometimes and we go ‘wow!’ at some of the things he does.
“Against Liverpool we lost Jack’s ball retention.
“I have no doubt had he been on that pitch when we were 1-0 up with ten minutes to go, he’d have bought some fouls and would have retained the ball in the top half for us.
“Without him we ended up losing. He’s a top player, bringing goals to his game as well as assists now.”
Grealish may not be the type of captain to grab a team-mate by the scruff of the neck during matches.
But Smith said he still carries a huge influence.
He added: “He knows this club and he’s not shy to voice his opinions.
“I’m very inclusive with the players in our debriefs and analysis — and Jack has a voice.
“On the pitch he’s not so vocal but he’s a leader by example.
“He’ll take the ball even if he’s having a bad game.
“There’s bravery in that and, sometimes, that can get other players driven as well. I’m sure he’s learned a lot from having John Terry at the club and James Chester, too.
“It showed the sort of character that Jack is, after winning the play-off final he dragged James Chester up so they could lift the trophy together.
“That underlines the high esteem he holds James in.”
Smith said Grealish has not suffered any hangover from his latest omission by England boss Gareth Southgate.
The Villa manager said: “We’ve had three international periods now and each time there has been speculation about him getting in there and he hasn’t.
“But he’s OK, apart from being frustrated by the injury.
“All he can control is his performances.
“He has to keep putting pressure on those who make these decisions.
“If he continues to play to that level then he will make the people who make the decisions pick him eventually.
“He’s trained all week so I have no doubt he’ll be there in his happy place at Villa Park, playing in front of the fans.
“The lay-off won’t affect him. He’s fit and ready.”
Source: Read Full Article