Dean Smith has reassured England and Aston Villa fans that Jack Grealish is fully fit for the European Championship and should suffer no recurrence of the shin injury that kept him out for three months until mid-May, so long as he follows a tailored training regime. Smith explained that no risks have been or will be taken with the player’s fitness.
Grealish missed 12 Premier League matches and England’s three World Cup qualifiers in March before returning for his club’s last four fixtures, competing 90 minutes against Chelsea on the final day. “He is 100% fit,” said Smith. “Firstly, we had to make sure he was ready to play for Aston Villa. We wouldn’t take a risk with only four games to go, with a player of Jack’s standing and quality, unless it was the right thing to do.
“We all believed it was the right thing to do – for him and for Aston Villa. Then once the season finished, if he gets picked, which hopefully he does, then it’s the right thing for England as well. 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 had the chance to go to the Euros.”
Smith said Grealish would be able to play three matches in quick succession for England if required and that the stress put on his shins would be managed for the foreseeable future. “It can recur but we’re taking steps to make sure it doesn’t,” the manager said. “With a loading injury you’ve got to manage the loads of the players. His load management now will be planned a lot tighter, a lot stricter. There are certainly different exercises he can do to improve the soleus muscle in the calves to stop or help the loading.
“It’s like a car: you have the springs on the car to help the balance and that’s what the muscles do in the calf. It helps protect the bone from the loading. We’ve just got to build up his muscles in that area – not the muscles that you see on the back because they’re obviously big enough but the smaller ones on the side.”
Smith said Villa had devised training to suit Grealish and made England staff aware of this. “We’ll have a plan for him, it may be 3k one day, 2k the next day, then 6k … that’s the management of him. England have been at the [Villa] training ground and there’s been a handing over from our performance department to the international performance department. That’s their job to look after him now.”