Dean Smith has warned Aston Villa’s Premier League rivals Jack Grealish is just getting started.
The Villa skipper has excelled this season, helping keep his side in European contention.
Grealish has six assists, only behind Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne in the league this season, while he has also scored five times.
Villa host Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and manager Smith expects England international Grealish to continue to improve.
He said: “Yes, there’s more to come definitely. There’s still improvements. Sometimes he picks the ball up a little bit too deep at times. He wants to be involved in the game all the time.
“He’s had a different role in the last couple of games, playing as a No. 10, and he’s played it very well.
“He is on another level, he’s playing wonderful football. At West Brom it looked like he was playing in the playground with his mates.
“It was a fantastic performance and the levels he’s got to now, we need to keep pushing him and squeezing even more out of him where he can. He’s a joy to watch at the moment.
“Just imagine if he didn’t feel the need to give away penalties to Ollie (Watkins) and (Anwar) El Ghazi. He knows what he’s good at and he’s certainly enjoying his football at the moment.”
Grealish has scored twice in nine games since Villa’s stunning 7-2 win over Liverpool in October.
But they have lost three and drawn one at home following the victory over the champions.
Villa shipped nine goals in three games before the 0-0 draw with Burnley but Smith denied they have lost their way at Villa Park.
‘No. I think we’ve been very unlucky, with the exception of Leeds,” he said.
“We’d won four games on the spin but ended up going toe-to-toe and playing a Leeds United game, which we didn’t need to do.
“Other than that, we’ve actually played very well. We should have beaten Burnley. Brighton got away with a VAR in the last minute.
“Southampton scored three set-pieces and a 30-yarder – that doesn’t happen very often.
“I know it’s only a marker, but in Expected Goals we’ve won all three of them games. For me, there is not an awful lot wrong. Unfortunately, the lack of fans neutralises home and away.
“I think it’s 50-50 now, home and away. There is little home advantage now, that’s for sure.”
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