Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish produced yet another mesmerising performance as he steered The Villains to back-to-back victories with a win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
The 24-year-old scored the opening goal for the hosts to equalize on the cusp of half-time and Matt Targett lifted Villa into 11th place with a last-gasp winner.
Grealish was left out of the previous England squad to face Czech Republic and Bulgaria respectively with Leicester City midfielder James Maddison selected instead. But Maddison withdrew from the squad due to illness and was later infamously pictured in a casino on the night of England’s 2-1 defeat against Czech Republic in Prague.
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers flew to his player’s defence, saying, “What was portrayed in an article in the press wasn’t quite how it was.” Regardless of whether the story was accurate or not, Maddison has learned a very valuable lesson and the incident may also open the door for Grealish, who has exploded into life, following a short lapse in form at the beginning of the season.
The former Tottenham Hotspur forward also added, “I said the last time I selected him in my team of the week that he was knocking on the international door. He’s now kicking it down.”
Grealish has played close to the centre-forward Wesley in the past two matches and he has also been given more licence to roam in the final third. His all-round impact has proven decisive for Aston Villa and his energy levels are something which would be very useful for England.
He was involved in everything good for going forward on Saturday. He has the ability to break into space and bring the ball forward and his range of passing is simply breath-taking. Brighton may have afforded him too much space at times but he exploited their lack of efficiency emphatically.
His first goal was a combination of creativity and goal-poaching instinct. He started the move by slipping the ball into Wesley and then darted into space inside the penalty area to convert Guilbert’s low cross.
After scoring in back-to-back matches in the Premier League for the first time in his career, Grealish consolidated a breath-taking performance by assisting the winning goal in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time.
He had combined effectively down the left channel with Targett throughout the 90 minutes and he weighted his pass to perfection to set him up for a firm finish past Ryan at the near post. It was an idyllic afternoon for the Villa captain and one that will have definitely caught the attention of Gareth Southgate.
If he continues in the same vein of form, then surely it’ll only be a matter of time before he’s given an opportunity to shine on the international stage?