Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has ruled Jack Grealish out of this weekend’s Championship fixture with Stoke City.
Smith told AVTV:
“No, Saturday will come too soon for him. He’s still working very hard on the training ground. He has done bits and bobs with us.”
Villa had initially expected to have Grealish available for the clash with Stoke, but Smith has revealed that the midfielder is not yet ready to return to action.
The 23-year-old has not featured in the Championship since picking up a shin injury during the 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion in the early stages of December.
Since then, Villa have played 12 times without him in the league, winning just twice, which is an indication of his importance to the team.
That said, it is not all bad news, with Smith confirming that the Englishman has stepped up his training in recent days in a bid to return as soon as possible.
Very, very important. Grealish’s numbers this season are not wonderful, scoring just twice and registering four assists in 21 Championship matches.
However, Villa are a different team when the midfielder plays; they are more inventive, take more risks and carry a greater threat in the final third of the field.
Smith’s side are fast running out of time if they are to make the playoffs this season, but a win at Stoke this weekend would be a big step in the right direction.
Grealish, who signed a new five-year contract with Villa in September, will then surely have an excellent chance of returning for his team’s next Championship clash at home to fellow top-six hopefuls Derby County on March 2.