Aston Villa are hoping that 23-year-old Jack Grealish will return from his spell on the treatment table this weekend as they take on Derby County at Villa Park.
The Villans are eight points adrift of the top six and have to win matches quickly if they’re going to stand any chance of a late run into the play-off spots.
That starts this weekend with their match against the Rams, who have lost three games in succession.
Grealish has been out of action since early December, but he’s being earmarked for a return to action this weekend. An Express and Star report has him as a potential to return, although it is in the hands of the Villa medical team.
If he does come back it will be a timely boost for Villa, who have struggled to press on after appointing Dean Smith as manager.
They’re as far from the top six as they were under Steve Bruce and progression has been slow, albeit much of it without their talisman attacker.
If Grealish does come back this weekend, there will be a winner and a loser in the Villa side. We look at the tow players likely to be most effected by his return.
Winner – Tammy Abraham
Abraham has one goal in five games, the driest spell in a Villa shirt since joining on loan. Chance creation has been at a minimum and he’s looked isolated and alone up top, despite being partnered by Jonathan Kodjia in the 1-1 with Stoke.
He’ll be boosted by Grealish returning to action. His creativity and attack-minded play will suit the smart runs and energy of the Chelsea man.
Loser – Conor Hourihane
He partnered Glenn Whelan in the recent 1-1 draw with Stoke, but is likely to be the man to miss out if Grealish returns.
The 23-year-old can play out wide, or through the centre and El Ghazi and Elmohamady would surely keep their places out wide in the 4-4-2 Dean Smith prefers at the moment.
Glenn Whelan would keep his role if John McGinn remains injured, but Hourihane would drop out of the side for Grealish.