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Villa boss Smith backs Grealish to catch Southgate’s eye

Jack Grealish will force his way into the the England squad, according to Aston Villa boss Dean Smith.

The Villa chief expects his captain to figure in Gareth Southgate’s thoughts this term.

Three Lions boss Southgate watched the midfielder as he helped Villa back to the Premier League last term and names his squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo next week.

Grealish may miss out on the first squad of the season but Smith expects the 23-year-old to eventually make the breakthrough.

“He’s getting better and better and once he hits top form sooner or later he’ll be in that squad,” he said, ahead of Friday’s Premier League visit of Everton.

“It’s down to Gareth if he deserves one or not, he’s not in control if he gets chosen for the squad. All he can control are his performances.

“If he keeps playing the way he did in the second half against Bournemouth he’ll certainly start getting noticed. He’s a terrific talent we thankfully have at this club.

“He thrives whenever the pressure is better or greater for him. He is a top player, we see it day in, day out. Others only see it once a week.”

Meanwhile, Ahmed Elmohamady signed a one-year contract extension on Thursday.

The Egypt international has made 89 appearances for Villa since joining from Hull in 2017 and has started their opening two games this term.

Smith added: “He’s going into the last year of his contract so it’s always important that there’s some longevity there.

“He’s deserved it for his performances, which is what all players deserve to get new contracts from.

“He was integral to the 10-game winning run we had at the end of last season to get into the play-offs.”

Kortney Hause is expected to return to the squad for the Everton game after a hamstring problem but James Chester remains out with his own hamstring injury.

Jonathan Kodjia is jogging again following an ankle issue but will not face the Toffees.