Thursday 22 February 2018

Grealish told to improve on and off the pitch

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish

John Percy

Rémi Garde has warned Jack Grealish that he must improve on and off the pitch as he prepares to end the youngster's exile.

Garde is poised to re-integrate the 20-year-old into his Aston Villa first-team squad next week after banishing him to the U-21s.

Grealish has trained with the development squad for the last fortnight after footage emerged of him partying in a Manchester nightclub after Villa's 4-0 defeat at Everton on November 21.

He was alleged to have continued his weekend of excess at a Birmingham hotel the following day, infuriating Garde, who is adopting a hardline stance in his attempt to lift Villa off the bottom of the Premier League.

Garde, still searching for his first victory since taking charge last month, is also believed to have been less than impressed with Grealish's performances in training before the incidents.

And although the Villa manager is set to bring him back into his plans after this tomorrow's trip to Southampton, he is expecting a dramatic improvement from the player who was at the centre of a tug of war between England and the Republic of Ireland earlier this year.

He said: "Jack knows what he has to do and you can guess that he has to behave in the right way during that time. Of course he has to work. Jack made a mistake and must pay the consequences for that.

"He is young and he will be back in the team. When he is fully committed he can be a good player."

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho is planning to bring goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois straight back into his starting line-up tomorrow, with Asmir Begovic to drop down to the bench despite his good performances.

Courtois resumed full training this week without feeling any significant pain and will be double-checked today ahead of his planned return against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium international has not played for Chelsea since the end of August after undergoing knee surgery.

Begovic has been one of the few Chelsea players to come out of the last three months with any credit, but Mourinho rates Courtois as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and hopes his return will help to solve some of the uncertainty in defence.

Despite their bad start, Mourinho sanctioned a Christmas night out for his squad on Wednesday, with players allowed to party into the early hours.

Pictures emerged of Diego Costa, Ramires and Kenedy leaving London nightclub Libertine at 3.15am, but Chelsea later revealed that the entire squad had been allowed a late night as part of pre-Christmas celebrations.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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