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Dean Smith hopes Jack Grealish’s England exposure can rub off on team-mates

Aston Villa v Southampton – Premier League – Villa Park
(Image credit: Gareth Copley)

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith hopes to benefit from Jack Grealish’s international confidence boost.

The midfielder received rave reviews for his three appearances for England over the last week, including his first competitive start, having displayed the sort of form which has helped propel his club side to within three points of the top of the Premier League.

National team boss Gareth Southgate was full of praise for the 25-year-old and believes he can cope with the attention he is now getting.

Smith hopes Grealish will continue those sort of performances for Villa but insists the player did not need validation at international level to prove how good he is.

“Hopefully it will give him an awful lot of confidence,” said the Villa boss, ahead of the visit of Brighton.

“The boy didn’t need (to be given) an awful lot of confidence any way as he is a confident player, confident lad.

“He knows he has an ability but obviously going and doing it on the world stage against the number one-ranked team (Belgium) and playing as he did will give him a lot of confidence.

“I was pleased and proud to see him performing – and pleased to see him come off the pitch after 73 minutes.”

Five wins from seven matches has them in sixth, ahead of early pace-setters Everton, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal – the team they beat 3-0 last time out.

Grealish is one of a number of players – Emiliano Martinez, Tyrone Mings, John McGinn, Douglas Luiz and Trezeguet – who have been instrumental in the club’s rise from escaping relegation on the final day of last season to pushing for the top four.

Smith is hopeful of getting some of his injured players back soon, the likes of goalkeeper Tom Heaton, Wesley, Bjorn Engels, Kourtney Hause, Frederic Guilbert and Bertrand Traore.

However, he accepts keeping the core of his side fit will be the key to their continued success.

“I’ve always wanted to have continuity, because if you’re not changing much it shows that your players are consistent,” he said.

“We have added quality to a squad that is used to the Premier League now.”