Smith Talks Up Captain Fantastic for England Call

Smith Talks Up Captain Fantastic for England Call

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith hailed a “captain’s performance” from Jack Grealish as his side hit a last-gasp winner to beat 10-man Brighton 2-1 at Villa Park.

Both teams went into the game on the back of fine wins ahead of the international break, Villa thrashing Norwich and Brighton heaping more misery on Tottenham.

But it would be Villa celebrating another three points as they came from behind to win, with Grealish teeing up Matt Targett to score his first goal for the club with almost the last kick of an entertaining contest.

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It had looked set to be a frustrating afternoon for Villa after Grealish had equalised in first-half stoppage time, Aaron Mooy having already been sent off for the Seagulls following Adam Webster’s maiden goal for Graham Potter’s side.

But, with Targett tucking away the winner, Smith was able to bask in what was a fine display from his 24-year-old skipper. “He was excellent,” Smith said of Grealish.

“Other sides that people don’t see or hear or write about, he ran 60 yards back to dispossess a player in our penalty box – it was a captain’s performance today. “He was integral to everything going forwards. It was no surprise that he scores in front of the Holte End and then gets the assist as well. All in all a good performance from him.”

England manager Gareth Southgate was in attendance to see Grealish’s man of the match performance, the Villa man yet to be capped having opted to represent the Three Lions over the Republic of Ireland.

Competition for places in the England midfield is hot with the likes of Mason Mount, James Maddison and Phil Foden all in the frame, but Smith says Grealish just needs to keep doing what he is doing.

“I don’t think you could not have been pleased as an England manager watching him,” Smith replied when asked if he felt Southgate would have been impressed.

“But he has got a lot of really very good players to choose from and all Jack can do is keep putting in performance like that and knocking on the door.”

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