Roy Keane urged Jack Grealish to “grow up” after he capped his Manchester City return on Tuesday with a goal in the FA Cup.
The England international, who joined City in the summer from Aston Villa for £100million, has struggled to convince in his debut season at the Etihad Stadium.
He has played 17 Premier League games, but remained on the bench for six others. What’s more, he has only scored and assisted a total of four goals, as he battles for minutes.
Indeed, Grealish is in City competition with the likes of top scorer Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.
But injury has not helped the 26-year-old’s cause. Grealish has recently spent a spell on the sidelines with a shin injury. The problem was similar to the one which sidelined him for a prolonged period last term.
He subsequently made his first start in almost a month on Tuesday as City beat Peterborough 2-0 to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals. Despite scoring City’s second goal, Keane urged the player to step up his contributions.
“I think it’s crunch time for Man City over the next few months, this is where you will really test as a player, crunch games,” Keane told ITV‘s coverage of the match.
“Jack’s had a few injury problems, probably been criticised a little bit for his off the field stuff but I think what Jack has to do is grow up and get the trust of Pep.
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“He probably hasn’t got that yet, same with England, I don’t think Gareth trusts him that much yet, good opportunity for him.
“Whatever Jack’s doing off the field, it does take its toll when you’re an attacking player, it’s another opportunity for Jack. I do think it’s about time he grew up.”
City manager Pep Guardiola defended Grealish in February after the player was refused entry to a nightclub for being too drunk.
Overall, the attacker has played 26 times for City this season, chipping in with four goals and three assists.
Grealish can step up for City
Grealish’s contributions put him in eighth in City’s top scorer ranks this season.
Sterling is behind Mahrez, with Phil Foden in third and Bernardo Silva in fourth. Midfielders Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan have also scored more goals than Grealish, as has Gabriel Jesus.
Nevertheless, City are still have the chance to secure a treble of trophies this season. Grealish could therefore prove a key player.
Grealish will likely get a key role against whoever City play in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, the attacker could also contribute in the Premier League title race and in the Champions League.