Jack Grealish’s return from injury has been hugely beneficial in reviving Aston Villa’s season, with the West Midlands side currently occupying the final play-off spot in the Sky Bet Championship table.
The Villans’ hopes of a top six finish looked to be dead and buried after a frustrating run of form, but the return of their star-man has come at the right time for Dean Smith’s men.
The 23-year old made an instant impact upon his return to the first-time, netting a breath-taking volley in a 4-0 thumping over fellow promotion contenders Derby County. The week after, he grabbed the headlines again, scoring the winner on a hostile day against arch rivals Birmingham City.
Grealish has been by far and away Villa’s standout performer this term – the club were lucky to keep him amid interest from the likes of Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, and he has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Spurs are continuing to be linked with a move to sign Grealish, with West Ham United and AFC Bournemouth also looking to secure the services of the midfielder, so it’s shaping up to be yet another busy summer for the club, regardless of which division they find themselves in.
Villa will be desperate to keep hold of their star-man for years to come, but one manager’s latest claim could deal the club a huge blow in their attempts to keep hold of the in-demand playmaker. Eyebrows were raised when Gareth Southgate once again overlooked Grealish, as he announced the England squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers.
But speaking about his decision to leave Grealish out of the squad, the Three Lions boss admitted that he will have to play in the Premier League if he wants to earn an England call-up.
Captaining Villa must be a huge honour for Grealish, having supported the club since he was a young boy, and leading them to promotion next year, if they fail to do so this year, would probably be the proudest achievement of his career.
But if he really wants to improve even more as a player and play on the international stage, it looks like he will need to play in the top-flight over the course of the next year or two.
With interest from the likes of Spurs and West Ham circulating, Villa fans are bound to be worried about the future of their talisman in the summer.