Aston Villa manager Dean Smith revealed one of his stars has likely played his last game this season, and detailed how he “twisted the arm” of the medical staff regarding Jack Grealish.
Aston Villa proved to be Everton’s bogey team once more, inflicting another damaging result on the Toffees’ quest for European football. Emiliano Martinez was the star of the show, registering five saves to reinforce the opinion of those that believe he is the signing of the season.
Jack Grealish also returned to action, getting 20 minutes under his belt in the second half to kickstart his hopes of earning a place in England’s Euro 2021 squad this summer.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Smith said: “I thought we controlled the ball well in the first half without creating chances. The second half was a bit scrappy. It started as a basketball game but we never took the control we wanted. They had the later chances.
“JJ [Jacob Ramsey] coming on and Jack [Grealish] helped us. We looked like we could create something in final third. That was what was missing for us.
“Another clean sheet, we haven’t had one for six or seven games. Never say die attitude from the players. They continued to show that and will do for last three games.
“We knew he [Emiliano Martinez] would be important for us. He’s done really well. With Tom Heaton injured at the start of the season we needed someone. He’s made it his number one jersey.”
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Regarding the return of Grealish, Smith said: “The medical staff said [bring him on at minute] 75 but I twisted their arm to get a few more minutes out of him.
“I felt we were flat in the final third and needed a spark. He won’t be ready to start at Crystal Palace.”
On Matty Cash’s injury: “Whether it’s a recurrence I don’t know. He felt his hamstring. That will probably rule him out for the rest of the season.”
On Tyrone Mings’ injury: “Him and Emi [Martinez] collided. He’s a tough old cookie. He should be OK.”