Daily Express

Smith tells Grealish to hit repeat

- By Neil Moxley

DEAN SMITH has been giving Jack Grealish pep talks over his England heartache.

Aston Villa’s skipper missed out on the last England squad due to a calf injury but did pick up a nomination for October’s Premier League player-of-the-month award.

And his manager has told Grealish, left, his focus needs to be on what he can control with Villa. Smith said: “We’ve had three internatio­nal periods now and each time there has been speculatio­n about him getting in – and he hasn’t.

“I’ve spoken to him at length. The message has been, ‘Just keep playing’.

“You saw in October he was up for player of the month, such was his form, so all he can do is that. If he does that, he will make the people who make the decisions eventually pick him. All he can control is his performanc­e.”

Grealish’s importance to Villa cannot be overstated. In his past 31 outings, Villa averaged two points per game. During the 15 games he missed with injury, they averaged one.

Smith said: “I stand with John Terry watching training and we go ‘Wow’ at some of the things he does. He’s also added the vocal side to his game. He’s not like that so much on the pitch but he will lead by example.

“Like with all top players, when they’re playing you have a better chance of winning than when they’re not.”

Against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle tonight, Smith says Villa must focus throughout.

He added: “They’ve got a really good organisati­on. Tough to break down but a real threat on the counter.”

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