Dean Smith says Grealish is ‘struggling for Saturday’, likely to miss Stoke clash

Dean Smith has revealed that Jack Grealish is “struggling for Saturday” and will likely miss Aston Villa’s Championship clash with Stoke City. The in-form midfielder picked up a shin injury in last Friday’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion and will be given a late assessment before Smith makes a final decision.

The Villa manager said in his pre-match press conference: “He’s struggling for Saturday. He’s had a shin injury. It doesn’t help being the most fouled player at times in this league, kicked from pillar to post. It’s one we’ll have to assess and make sure he’s right, because I don’t want to risk anything long-term. We’ll give him as much time as he needs to come back.”

The 23-year-old has played in all 23 of Villa’s Championship games this season but Saturday’s meeting will be the first league outing Grealish looks set to miss. He’s the most-fouled player in the division and has succumbed to injury after one too many kicks to the shins it appears.

It’s particularly bad timing as Stoke will be a difficult side to face. The Potters are two places and two points worse off than Dean Smith’s side in the table, but City are unbeaten in eight games and have picked up seven points from their last three outings.

Gary Rowett’s men have gone eight games without losing away from home too, so Villa could miss Grealish’s creativity for an important game. Nevertheless, home advantage could be key. Villa have lost only once in their own backyard this season and boast three wins from their last four at Villa Park.