‘I think he gets targeted, but he takes pleasure in the fact they want to kick him’: Aston Villa boss Dean Smith claims Jack Grealish relishes being man marked by opponents
- Jack Grealish has been the most fouled Premier League player this season
- Aston Villa midfielder has impressed on return to the Premier League this term
- Manager Dean Smith claims Grealish enjoys attention of being man marked
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith believes Jack Grealish is revelling in being a marked man.
The midfielder is the most fouled player in the Premier League this season. Grealish is fouled an average of 4.6 times a game, ahead of Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.
He was fouled 161 times – a league high – when Villa won promotion from the Championship last season but Smith feels his captain enjoys the attention.
Teams have attempted to man-mark Jack Grealish in an attempt to nullify Aston Villa
‘I think he gets targeted, there were five or six fouls against him at Chelsea. It shows there’s a target on him,’ he said, ahead of Sunday’s visit of Leicester.
‘It’ll frustrate him if they continually do it and not get cautioned but he takes pleasure in the fact they want to kick him. He gets up and gets on with it.
‘I knew he could do it in the Premier League. He made his debut in the Premier League, unfortunately Villa went down to the Championship and he had to spend a few years there.
But Dean Smith insists it is not affecting Grealish, as he spoke to the press on Friday
‘He excelled when he came back from injury last season, started scoring goals, assisting but also became the captain and leader. He has matured as a person and player. He is getting better and better.’
Villa are a point above the relegation zone after Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea.
Leicester have won their last seven top-flight games – a club record-equalling run – and sit second, eight points behind runaway leaders Liverpool.
But Smith vowed the in-form Foxes will have to be up for the fight on Sunday.
Grealish has been fouled on average over four times a game as he tries to fend off Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta during Aston Villa’s 2-1 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday
He said: ‘We’ll certainly try (to end their run). They are on a fantastic run of form but we are at Villa Park, there aren’t many teams who will come away from Villa Park and think they’ve had an easy game.
‘We’ll be up for it, our supporters will be up for it. We’re ready and prepared to stop their run.’
Anwar El Ghazi is back in contention after a knee injury but Jed Steer (achilles) and Keinan Davis (hamstring) are out.
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