Jack Grealish: Aston Villa playmaker proving fitness ahead of England Euro 2020 squad announcement, says Dean Smith

Jack Grealish is proving his fitness and will be ready for Euro 2020 if included in England’s squad, according to Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith.

The 25-year-old has been steadily working his way back to fitness from a shin injury with substitute appearances against Everton and Crystal Palace, followed by a first start in the 2-1 victory at Tottenham in midweek.

All eyes will be on Grealish ahead of Gareth Southgate naming his England squad on Tuesday, amid comments from former national team boss Roy Hodgson that it would be tough to leave the Villa playmaker out.

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Smith provided a further update on Grealish’s condition ahead of Sunday’s finale in the Premier League against Chelsea, live on Sky Sports, and said he is encouraged by his progress.

“He has had no ill effects from the loading of match time and training time which is really pleasing,” Villa head coach Smith said.

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“I thought he showed a real confidence and assuredness in his performance at Tottenham and hopefully we can see more of the same of that on Sunday.”

Asked whether Grealish might be ready for 90 minutes, Smith replied: “Jack will be the one to call that.

“I’ll be looking obviously at his performance levels and if I feel there’s a drop off then I’ll have no doubts in bringing him off because we don’t want to risk anything.

“I believe Jack will be ready for the Euros, he is proving that, he proved that with 72 minutes the other night and hopefully he can go and prove that again on Sunday.”

Villa Park will also welcome 10,000 fans back for the Chelsea game, the first time supporters will have been in the stadium since February 2020, as football edges closer to normality amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The players know the expectation of the Villa fans and what they want to see,” Smith said. “We’ve got a lot of players – Emi Martinez, Ollie Watkins – whose families won’t have seen them play at Villa Park before.

“There will certainly be a motivation for all my players. Having the 10,000 fans back will make it, not a normal Villa Park, but one that will motivate myself and the players.”

‘Injuries stopped Villa seeing best of Barkley’

Smith also believes injury robbed Aston Villa of the chance to see the best of on-loan Ross Barkley.

The midfielder is ineligible to face parent club Chelsea on Sunday and has played the last game of his loan spell.

Barkley suffered a hamstring injury against Brighton in November and Smith feels that cost the 27-year-old the chance to show his best form.

He said: “There was a lot right and when he signed, we knew we had signed an excellent individual and he proved that in his first game against Liverpool.

“Ross scored the winner the following game against Leicester and then unfortunately he got an injury which halted his momentum because he was playing excellently. He got injured against Brighton and didn’t come back until after our Covid break.

“That coincided with a lot of indifferent form from us as a team – not just Ross – and it never happened as much as we’d have liked it to.

“I certainly can’t fault the guy’s ability or his attitude and I’ve really enjoyed working with him.”

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