With Jack Grealish back in the equation, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith must surely unleash his talisman against Fulham in the Premier League today.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against the Cottagers, the Villa boss said: “Yes he certainly is, he’s trained all week. He’s only had a few sessions though but he seems in good nick and seems fit enough so he’s certainly put himself up for selection which is a good thing for everybody. The performances over the last six weeks haven’t been what they have been previously.
“If anyone loses the player with the calibre of Jack, as has been seen by plenty of other clubs, then you are going to struggle a little bit but it is going to be a big boost to have Jack back and for the players as well.”
When you look at Grealish’s influence on this Villa team, it’s no surprise that Smith is absolutely buzzing to have him back. In the six Premier League games that the 1.8m-tall (5 foot 10) star has missed in the past few weeks, Villa have won just once and scored a mere three goals in the process.
Grealish has enjoyed another fine season in the top flight, scoring six goals and providing a further 12 assists in the league, and has been a key factor as to why Villa find themselves in with a shout of European football next season.
Former Villa player Paul Merson raved about the kind of quality Grealish brings to the table, saying: “He’s a special player. He’s the best three or four-yard passer I’ve seen in the game for a long time. People will go ‘three or four-yard passes’, but you watch football when it comes back and see how many people roll the ball to a full-back and they have to take a touch or someone goes on the overlap and they kick it out of touch.
“It is always a pitch perfect ball, that three or four-yard ball and for me he is a special player. Very comfortable on the ball, very gifted.”
Now with Grealish back fit, there’s no questioning that Smith simply has to start him from the off against Fulham. The 25-year-old is the game-changer Villa need to kick things back into gear in the top-flight.