In news that next to nobody wanted to hear, Aston Villa’s captain Jack Grealish has left the Eithad Stadium on crutches after today’s match with Manchester City. Grealish was substituted in the closing stages after the game and appeared to be in some pain as the scoreline slipped away.
Aston Villa’s Head Coach Dean Smith has stated that it is far too early to assess the severity of the calf injury, but this would be the second leg injury to Jack Grealish within a calendar year, and thus questions must be asked about why Grealish was kept on the pitch when the momentum of the match was firmly thrust into the hands of Manchester City. It was a dead match, and as much belief as Grealish inspires, he is a vulnerable player due to not only the effort that he puts into his running, but because of the tackles he endures. He certainly has the passion to demand game-time, but he certainly isn’t invincible.
As Smith stated, the severity of the injury is not known, and the crutches right now are a simply precaution to ensure that the injury does not worsen until it is assessed. Until that happens, it might benefit Aston Villa to rest Grealish for the Carabao Cup clash against Wolves on Wednesday - and possibly next week’s match-up with Liverpool.
It wouldn’t be a cowardly move for Villa to be conservative with the outlook to Grealish’s injury. If it is a major injury, he will be rested anyway - but if it is minor, it will not help Villa to exaggerate any muscular damage against a Liverpool team who will likely beat Aston Villa anyway.
It would also be unfair to Aston Villa’s squad to assume that they are useless without Grealish. While the team missed him last season, this is a whole new ball game. The wing will miss his presence, but there is midfield depth. Conor Hourihane, Douglas Luiz, Henri Lansbury and Marvelous Nakamba have a lot to offer Aston Villa and can support the team if the decision is made to rest Grealish. John McGinn is also a more-than-capable footballer who can help carry Aston Villa if they lack their captain.
Until the severity of the injury is known, we cannot overreact - but Aston Villa must protect their captain and realise that it may not be wise to involve him in every minute of every game. His desire to play is admirable, but it will only take one awful tackle to ruin Villa’s prospects. Villa must use their captain, but protect him for he is an asset to the team and the playing style of the team.
Now, we will await the diagnosis, and while the injury is likely a minor muscle injury, it’s presence is enough of a warning shot to reinforce the idea that Jack Grealish is a man that Aston Villa need to protect.