Rumours spread late last night that Jack Grealish had fallen victim to a mystery injury that will put him out of action for a number of months.
Thankfully, it's not that bad, with the rumours being semi-confirmed by Gregg Evans of the Birmingham Mail. The missing part right now? The major injury that was meant to scupper Villa's season.
#avfc Jack Grealish is out of Saturday's game with Stoke. Dean Smith: "He's got a shin injury, he won’t be available for Saturday,— Gregg Evans (@greggevans40) December 13, 2018
He’ll have another test tomorrow and hopefully he’ll be available for the Christmas period."
While it seems at this point that Grealish will likely miss just a single game, it's still bad news. A lot of Villa's game runs through Grealish.
Any injury to any player in the first team at this point of time, and with the type of momentum that Villa have behind them, is crushing - but this blow to Grealish is nothing but bad news. Thankfully, there is room for optimism - Grealish's injury is minor and will allow Villa to rotate him out of the side for a short rest.
We were provided with visual confirmation of a suspected injury late into the West Midlands derby when Grealish was substituted. The playmaker limped off the field and Dean Smith confirmed to the AVFC media team that Jack had been carrying aches and injuries for a number of games.
It’s likely that Grealish’s injuries have been exaggerated due to his importance to the team - where he usually gives 110 percent for a full 90 minutes. He’s not capable of resting, and the burden that comes with that is that he will, from time to time, become injured - more likely on a far more frequent basis than his squad-mates. Villa mean just that little bit more to Grealish than almost anyone else in the squad. He’ll put it all on the line for Villa and this is precisely the cost. It's also part and parcel of playing football (and being kicked a lot).
It is likely that Conor Hourihane will be moved up to fill Grealish’s position, with a returning Birkir Bjarnason taking Hourihane’s defensive-midfield role. What’s more, there’s every chance Callum O’Hare will be called upon. This isn’t a total deal-breaker for Aston Villa. Fortunately, Villa have a wealth of talent available in midfield. A shallow squad this is not, and Villa have plenty of match-winners that they can call upon.
But they won’t be Jack Grealish, at least not for now, and not on Saturday.
Get well soon Jack!