Jack Grealish remains stuck on the sidelines at Aston Villa, with Dean Smith delivering a “frustrating” update on the fitness of his talismanic captain.
A leg problem has kept the 25-year-old England international out of the Villans’ last two fixtures – a defeat to Leicester and welcome win over Leeds.
He will also be missing for a trip to Sheffield United on Wednesday, with Smith still unsure as to whether a key part of his plans will be available for a derby date with Wolves on Saturday.
What has been said?
Villa boss Smith has told reporters when quizzed on Grealish: “He won't be ready for the game [at Bramall Lane], he's not travelling with us.
“We'll decide whether we can get him on the training ground later in the week. He's working with the doctor and the rehab staff every day.
“It's frustrating because he's a top player and we'd be a better team having him in it. But it's one of those things - players get injured. It's how you cope without those top players.
“He just feels it on one movement, so once that's free he can go and train. We're looking at whether we can get him on the training pitch by the end of this week.”
How has Grealish fared this season?
In his second campaign back in the Premier League, a classy playmaker has underlined his value for club and country.
A breakthrough has been made with England heading towards this summer’s European Championship, with Gareth Southgate embracing Grealish’s creative qualities.
Villa are doing the same, with their skipper registering seven goals and 10 assists through 23 appearances in all competitions.
He is an important figure for Smith, but the Villa manager is adamant that he has enough talent at his disposal to counter the loss of one player.
“There was a lot of noise outside that we were a one-man team and couldn't win without Jack,” Smith has added.
“But we firmly believed in the squad of players we've got. But we also know we're a better team with Jack in it because of the top-class player he is.
“It's always disappointing when he's not in the team because of what he gives us, but we know we're more than capable of winning games without him.”
The bigger picture
Villa only avoided slipping back into the Championship on the final day of the 2019-20 campaign.
Staying up allowed them to tie Grealish to a new contract and invest heavily in a number of deals that have delivered rich rewards – such as those for Emi Martinez, Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins.
Smith’s side are now sat ninth in the Premier League table, with just four points separating them from the top six and six from the Champions League places.