Local Lad Jack Grealish Set For Aston Villa Breakthrough?
Aston Villa started the season with an impressive 1-0 win away to Stoke City on Saturday. 18-year-old Jack Grealish came on as a 71st minute substitute for Charles N’Zogbia and showed glimpses of the talent which could see him have a big breakthrough campaign for the Midlands club this year. An exciting winger, Grealish provides an appealing option to manager Paul Lambert with his direct style of play and willingness to take his man on.
These are anxious times for Villa fans as owner Randy Lerner has become increasingly reluctant to invest in the transfer market with many suspecting he may be looking for a way out of the club. The lack of high profile signings could provide an opportunity for Grealish to stake his claim for more regular first team football. However, Grealish looks likely to have to settle to play cameo roles for now, as he did on Saturday, with Lambert still favouring more experienced players at the start of a season in which most pundits expect them to struggle.
Grealish impressed on loan last season at League One side Notts County, playing an important role in helping them avoid relegation. The winger won plaudits for the tenacity he showed against some opponents who were reportedly deliberately targeting him, scoring 5 in 37 appearances during his loan spell. Grealish kicked on again in pre-season this year, gaining praise from Lambert who said of Grealish to BBC Local Radio, ‘He’s done really well on the tour. He didn’t disgrace himself and more than held his own’.
Grealish was born and raised in the Birmingham area as a Villa fan and his introduction into the first team should put a spring in the step of the supporters who are longing to see local lads breakthrough. Although still only 18, Grealish has played five times for The Republic of Ireland Under-21s, qualifying to play for them through his Dublin born Father. The youngster will be looking to impress Roy Keane, who holds the dual role of both Villa and Ireland Assistant Manager. One of the first things Keane reportedly did on arriving at Villa park was ensure Grealish would permanently train with the first team instead of with the academy and this should give him the confidence that he is ready to make an impact in the top flight.