Jack Grealish is hoping to overcome his injury troubles in time to make his first return to Aston Villa with Manchester City tomorrow night.
The England international has missed City’s last three games with an unspecified injury, but Pep Guardiola confirmed English football’s costliest ever footballer has returned to training.
City have won all three of those games to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea and go in search of a sixth successive win against Villa.
Steven Gerrard’s team are in good form themselves though having won the new manager’s first two games in charge against Brighton and Crystal Palace.
Their chances of making it three from three under Gerrard will be boosted if £100million playmaker Grealish isn’t involved for City.
Asked about Grealish and fellow England international Phil Foden’s fitness, Guardiola said: “They are training individually, they are training much better – Phil much better.”
Grealish has predominantly played off the left for City this season, meaning Villa right-back Matty Cash will be the man tasked with stopping him on Wednesday if he wins his fitness race.
The Villa squad are well aware of Grealish’s skillset, so they’re better equipped than most Premier League teams to prevent him from weaving his magic.
John McGinn shared some tips to Scotland teammate Stephen O’Donnell before their game with England at last summer’s European Championships.
O’Donnell managed to get the better of Grealish at Wembley and revealed the secrets McGinn had shared with him in the build-up to the game.
“John McGinn had given me some tips,” O’Donnell explained. “He said if he comes on you need to be nibbling in his ear but don’t be critical, be complimentary.
“So the full time he was on I was telling him how good looking he was and I love his calves and asking him how he got his hair to look like that.
“He (McGinn) said if you tell him he’s hopeless or kick him really, really hard, he gets up and gives it back at you. Maybe that was the advantage over Jack Grealish the other night.”
McGinn and Grealish remain close friends and the Villa midfielder recently named his former teammate as his favourite current Premier League player.
“I’ll go with Jack Grealish, because he’s my mate,” said McGinn.
Starring alongside McGinn in a TikTok video for BT Sport, Grealish made a talking gesture with his hands and predicted: “That’s going to be John McGinn in my ear when we play them.”
Villans will be hoping that McGinn’s off-putting tactics work on their former talisman should he take to the field.