England injury boost with Jack Grealish '100 per cent' fit for Euro 2020 and ready to be new Gazza, claims Dean Smith
DEAN SMITH claims Jack Grealish is 100 per cent fit and ready to take this summer's European Championships by storm – just as Paul Gascoigne did at Euro 96.
The Villa boss rates his skipper among the best five players in the Premier League and says Grealish could prove to be as important for England this summer as Kevin de Bruyne is for Belgium.
Smith shared Grealish's fears that the midfielder's Euro dream was over when the 25-year-old missed three months of the season due to a stress injury to his calf.
Happily, he says the midfielder did enough in four comeback games to convince Villa's medical staff and Smith he could handle three tough group games in nine days if that's what Gareth Southgate demands.
Smith gave Grealish a clean bill of health and says he is ready and refreshed to make a massive impact on the international scene.
He said: "Jack's been worried right the way through – as were we – about when he would come back and whether we would run out of games for him.
"But he is a naturally fit boy who came through four games with no ill effects and is now 100 per cent ready for England.
"We would never have taken a risk with only four games to go, with a player of Jack's standing and quality, unless it was the right thing for him, for Aston Villa and for England.
"If we felt there was any kind of future risk then we would have just shut him down for the rest of the season and he wouldn't have gone to the Euros.
"But it wasn't a risk. The injury wasn't as bad as the one he had a couple of years ago in the Championship. We're quite happy where he is now."
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Smith says Southgate is getting a fully-fit player who is capable of becoming the darling of the England support – just as Gazza was at Euro 96 – and is now mature enough to handle that level of expectation.
He said: "For me for the first two thirds of the season, Jack was in the top five players in the Premier League, which is easy to forget because he missed so much at the back end.
“But I don't think the FA have missed or forgotten that because he did so well when he arrived into the England squad.
"His standing in the game in the Premier League has gone up another level and, if the Euros put him in the spotlight, like Gazza, it won't faze him.
"He’s in the limelight anyway. Jackmania probably started 18 months ago when we got to the Premier League.
"He’s had ups and downs as most people do but he handles it well. He has matured as a person and let’s hope he can go there and light it up. I’m sure he can."
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