According to the Birmingham Mail, the club’s teenage sensation remains an important part of manager Paul Lambert’s first-team plans and has been promised more chances to prove himself at Villa Park going forward.
The news comes after Forest boss Stuart Pearce was coy when quizzed about Grealish’s potential arrival on Monday, telling the Nottingham Post: ‘We are always looking for good players to come in, we have made various phone calls this week and last week, about players who might come in and give us a lift.
‘We will continue to do that. If the right player is available and we can get the nod from their club, we will bring them in. But at this moment, the calls have not come off.’
Aged 19, Grealish has been hailed as one of the Premier League’s most exciting prospects after making his senior breakthrough this season, earning encouraging reviews from four brief top-flight outings and one Capital One Cup start thus far.
His undoubted promise saw Villa move to tie him down to a new deal last week which will keep at his childhood club until 2018, in the wake of reported interest from both Chelsea and Manchester United, with his status as one of the team’s building blocks for the future clear for all to see.
Nevertheless, with Lambert so far reluctant to throw the Birmingham-native in at the deep end at such a tender age, one has to wonder whether a stint in the Championship might have benefited him, given his need for significant minutes.
While Villa fans are no doubt eager to see a hometown hero handed a more sizeable role in the first-team, the fact remains that he is far from the finished article, and no more deserving of a spot in the side than positional rivals Kieran Richardson, Charles N’Zogbia and Andreas Weimann.
His slight build and trickiness have made him an easy target for Premier League defenders so far, having notably drawn three yellow cards for Hull City players within the first 15 minutes of coming in their Premier League clash, and a spell in the second-tier, where he can continue to get used to such physical treatment, could have been a solid step for his development.
Grealish, after all, spent the majority of last season on loan at Forest’s city rivals Notts County in League One, scoring five goals in 38 total appearances to help the club stave off relegation, and recently spoke in glowing terms of his time at Meadow Lane.
‘It was one of the best decisions of my life looking back now,’ he was quoted in the Birmingham Mail.
‘I wasn’t so sure when I went there at the start, I’ll be honest. I was just turned 18 and going to League One. They were bottom of the league and it was a bit scary.
‘I had never played a first-team game for anyone but I went there and it all started. I had to do everything for myself down there.
‘Just living on my own and dealing with stuff on my own was hard but it all helped. On the pitch, physically and mentally it was good for me.
‘I played 38 games and we stayed up on the last day so the experience was great for me.’
In effect, if Lambert intends to hand Grealish more first-team opportunities in the near future, as promised, then it makes sense for him to remain at Villa Park this season, but if a bit-part role is all he has planned for him then a stint with a side like Forest wouldn’t go amiss.
No one would deny that the Republic of Ireland under-21 international has all the talent to become a claret and blue stalwart but there is a lot of work ahead, and dropping down to the Championship for a brief spell certainly shouldn’t be seen as a step back.