Jack Grealish looks like he is recovering well from his injury and could be set for a return after the International break. The Wolves game may well come too soon for the Solihull born Villa fan but the games against Fulham and Birmingham may provide the player with the opportunity of some game time.
The question is where would a fit-again Grealish fit into the current team and is there even a position available for him in the starting eleven?
Grealish was the second highest scorer for Villa last season; scoring 5 from a wide position but even he would admit that he is capable of so much more. Before the kidney injury that he suffered in the pre-season game against Watford, Bruce had plans of utilising Grealish as a number 10 or attacking midfielder in a 3 man midfield trident for this season.
Before the kidney injury that he suffered in the pre-season game against Watford, Steve Bruce had plans of utilising Grealish as a number 10 or attacking midfielder in a 3 man midfield trident for this season and even stated that he build a team around the 22-year-old.
A move towards the middle, which is the Villa man’s preferred position would have given the player a chance to unlock defences with clever passes and neat interchanges. Playing in a more central role and seeing more of the ball, the opportunity is there to create, provide more assists and get into more goalscoring positions.
With the introduction of the 4-4-2 formation which was conceded with an upturn in results, there is no longer room or the luxury of an attack-minded central midfielder in the mould of Grealish. It makes more sense to have one holding player in Glenn Whelan or Mile Jedinak and then a box to box team-mate alongside him such as Conor Hourihane or Henri Lansbury. Which means that a wide position would be the more obvious position for him.
The trouble is, the wide positions are already in high demand. Robert Snodgrass and Albert Adomah are starting to make the left and right midfield spots their own after some impressive displays. Also competing for these spots are Ahmed Elmohamady (who has taken right back duties), Birki Bjarnason and the injured Andre Green.
It is unlikely then that Grealish will be able to find his way back into his preferred attacking midfield position unless the manager changes formation back to 4-3-3. However, why would Bruce do this when this formation caused him so many poor results. Likewise, even if he did, there is still competition for his position. Josh Onomah, who was bought due to the injury to Grealish looks exciting and productive albeit still raw and the young Callum O’Hare has been making the match-day squads recently.
Competition for places is healthy and desired by all clubs. It will be great to see him back fully fit again after a difficult injury. So long as he can keep his head down and work hard and concentrate on the pitch then we will have a great squad player who if he starts to live up to his potential could take this league by storm.