Jack Grealish made his long-awaited return to action for Aston Villa in the goalless draw against Everton.
The Villa captain missed 12 matches with a shin injury before being named on the bench for Thursday’s Premier League clash against Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
But he made a welcome return to the pitch halfway through the second period, replacing Bertrand Traore.
Within seconds after coming on he showed what Villa had been missing with a series of purposeful dribbles at Everton’s backline.
While Grealish’s return comes as a huge boost to Villa for the final three games of the season, it is also a welcome sight for England fans across the country.
The 25-year-old shone on England duty earlier this season, making his debut against Denmark in September before earning widespread praise for his performances against Wales and Belgium in the months that followed.
Grealish remains Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate’s best-performing attacking midfielder this season despite his injury, with 16 direct goals contributions in the Premier League.
Among those delighted to see Grealish back to fitness is Gary Lineker, who tweeted: “Great to see Jack Grealish back on the pitch. Nice little boost for the Euros.”
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Smith confirmed that Grealish would be on the bench again against Crystal Palace on Sunday and added: “I’ll sit down with him tomorrow and see how he feels. He certainly brought a spark onto the pitch straight away. Jacob Ramsey did the same, they both brought a little bit of quality and energy into the game for us because it wasn’t quite happening in the final third.
“I think he had one mesmerising run where he had five or six Everton players chasing him and you thought it might be one of them days where he comes on scoring the winner.
“It’s really good to have him back. It’s small steps at the moment but it’s great to have him back out there.
“We’ve got three games now in the next 10 days and we’re hopeful Jack will play a part in all three of them games. Whether it’s Tottenham or Chelsea, we’re hoping to get 90 minutes out of him.”