football

Bold Jack Grealish prediction delivered as England handed Euro 2020 boost


Jack Grealish is fully fit for England and could spark a wave of “Jackmania” at the Euros, according to Aston Villa boss Dean Smith.

Villa skipper Grealish returned from 12 games out with a shin injury to play in the team’s last four Premier League games.

He started Villa’s final two matches as they beat Spurs and Chelsea to finish 11th.

Smith reckons the England star, 25, who has five caps after making his debut last September, was in the top five players in the Premier League earlier this term before his injury.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has since included Grealish in his provisional 33-man squad and the star is set to make the final 26.

Smith predicts England could now witness a similar clamour to ‘Gazzamania’ when Paul Gascoigne was in his pomp at Italia 1990 and Euro 1996.



Aston Villa's Jack Grealish
Grealish has recently returned after injury and wants to impress this summer

The Villa boss said: “For the first two thirds of the season I thought he was in the top five players in the Premier League.

“Let’s hope he can go and light it up and I am sure he can.

“Jackmania started probably 18 months ago when we got to the Premier League.

“He has had ups and downs, as most people do, but he handles it well. He is 100 per cent fit.

“Firstly we had to make sure he was ready to play for Aston Villa.

“We wouldn’t take a risk with only four games to go, with a player of Jack’s standing and quality, unless it was the right thing to do.

“If we felt there was any kind of future risk then we would have just shut him down for the rest of the season and he wouldn’t have had the chance to go to the Euros.”

Grealish has been joined in the Southgate’s initial squad by Villa defender Tyrone Mings and striker Ollie Watkins, who scored 14 Premier League goals this season.

Grealish got injured in February but the FA continued to brief that they intended to pick him this summer.

Smith said England staff even came to Villa’s training ground and are fully up to speed on his fitness after dismissing claims the ace cannot train on successive days.

Smith added: “The first two thirds of the season, Jack was one of the best players in the Premier League.

“I don’t think the FA have missed or forgot that.

“He did so well and impressed when he arrived into the England squad. His standing in the game in the Premier League has gone up another level.

“They were probably just behind us in wanting him to be back as soon as possible.”

Despite missing three months injured, Grealish finished the most fouled player in the Premier League after being halted 110 times.

The star wears notoriously small shin pads but Smith is adamant it is not connected to his injury.

He insisted: “No, because it is not an impact injury. It is down to purely loading of the shin.

“The loading is when you are putting pressure on the ground.”





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