Aston Villa boss Dean Smith insists that Jack Grealish will do everything he can between now and the end of the season to make sure of his England spot at Euro 2020.
The Villa captain has returned to the fold at a timely moment, not so much for Villa, but for his international hopes. The 25-year-old’s early-season form granted him a first call-up in November, but a shin injury meant he missed the most recent camp. Indeed, he only made his comeback on Wednesday after suffering a shin injury in February.
The midfielder no doubt faces a battle to restore himself to the team.
However, Smith insists that Grealish will prove his worth in the next week to Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.
He could in fact do so by affecting the race for the top four; Villa play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the season after facing Tottenham next Wednesday.
“First and foremost, he’s got to be chosen to go to the Euros,” Smith told reporters at a press conference.
“I’m sure he will be, such has been his quality this season. I’ve no doubt that in the final three games he’ll continue to show that.
“Obviously I’m not picking the team for England but if he gets game time, he will certainly show what he’s about.”
Grealish made his comeback as a substitute in Thursday’s 0-0 draw with Everton at Villa Park.
Before his injury, he had accumulated seven goals and 12 assists from 24 games in all competitions.
However, the midfielder also has a leadership to his game admired by his manager.
Smith added: “I trust my medical staff and the handover policies we’ll have with England. He’ll be managed correctly, no doubts about that. We look forward to having a fit Jack Grealish back for the Euros should he get selected.
“Jack’s always had his feet firmly on the ground. He’s become a really mature captain of the football club.
“I witnessed that just going in at half-time [on Thursday]. He was one of the first ones already chatting to the players about what we can do a little bit better.
“He has matured as a lad, he understands the game, that’s for sure. That’s why he’s playing at the top level.”
Smith slams ‘very unfair’ Villa claim
Before facing Chelsea and Tottenham, though, Villa face Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Like Villa, Palace have an obvious talisman in Wilfred Zaha. But asked if both sides rely too much on their big players, Smith said: “That’s very unfair on both teams. This is only our second season in the Premier League, we’re building a team that we feel can be capable of fighting for Europe.
“Jack will be the first to say the team has improved this season, the quality of players has improved.
“I just look at the team now: Ezri Konsa is pushing for an international spot, as is Matt Targett, Ollie Watkins has already got into the England team and we’ve got John McGinn who’s getting better and better for Scotland.
“So the quality of our team is getting better and better and that’s what we need to continue to do.
“Jack is an exceptional talent so it’s very hard to get many players of that level. But we’re certainly working on the players we’ve got.”
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