Aston Villa’s hopes of securing Europa League football for next season have been given a boost with the return of skipper Jack Grealish to the training paddock.
The England international is integral to manager Dean Smith’s side, and his return comes in the nick of time, as Villa approach the business end of the season.
Grealish suffered his leg injury in the build-up to the home encounter with Leicester City on February 21, and has since been forced to spend a frustrating spell out on the sidelines. It’s fair to say Villa’s top-six hopes have been hampered by his notable absence. Villa suffered defeat to the Foxes that day, and went on to pick up just one win in their following five Premier League games before the international break. Villa are now 22/1 withFunbet online sports betting
to secure a top-six finish this season. It’s been a tough spell for the West Midlands outfit, but there is still hope.
Going into the international break, Villa found themselves with eight points between them and the top six, while still having a game in hand on sixth-place West Ham. Of course Villa would require their rivals above them to suffer dips in form, but punters might still be looking at Smith’s men as outsiders for a top-six place.
, Grealish will be looking to make up for lost time, as Villa delve into the business end of the campaign. The playmaker was forced to miss out on the three England internationals in March, and with the European Championships this summer, he will be determined to prove to Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate he should be in the squad for the major tournament.
After a tricky run of results, the return of Grealish will feel like a new signing as we leave winter behind. The 25-year-old contributes all over the park, and chips in with his fair share of goals and assists. Only England striker Ollie Watkins had more goals than Grealish for Villa this season before the international break. While it was the skipper who had already amassed a total of 10 assists in his 23 games played. John McGinn was the next closest with four assists, and the Scot had played four more games.
While Villa supporters might have hoped, few would have imagined how their side could have progressed since they narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League last season. From a side that nearly dropped straight back down to the Championship, to one now competing for Europe.
Manager Smith must take great credit for the transformation, and the club’s board for sticking with him. The signing of Watkins was a gamble, having not played before in the Premier League, but it’s one that has paid off. Watkins, along with the other new arrivals over the summer, has fit into the side well. When Grealish is on the field, they shine even more, and it could prove to be an exciting end to the season for the men from Villa Park.