Jack Grealish is expected to make his long-awaited return against Derby County on March 2 and Dean Smith admitted he’s considering handing the Aston Villa midfielder a start. Jonathan Kodjia could be the one to make way for the 23-year-old as his form has fallen off a cliff in recent weeks – no goal, assist or shot on target in 2019.
After Smith was appointed in mid-October, Villa picked up five wins (56%) and two draws from nine league games before Grealish picked up his shin injury. They’ve suffered badly in his absence, however, picking up just two wins (15%) from the 13 games that followed. It’s no surprise Smith is so keen to reintroduce his as soon as possible.
Kodjia can have no complaints if he does take the bullet. The 29-year-old was below-par against Stoke City on the weekend and looks short of confidence. With Grealish on the pitch, Villa should retain higher levels of possession which could mean a better quality of chances can be created.
Tammy Abraham has scored just one goal in five appearances, so he should be delighted at the prospect of Grealish returning. Kodjia isn’t scoring or making opportunities for his teammates, so Smith could give Grealish a chance instead.