Speaking ahead of Saturday’s third round FA Cup clash with Wycombe Wanderers at his pre-match press conference, Aston Villa manager Remi Garde has refuted reports that Jack Grealish could be loaned out to a Championship club during the winter transfer window.
Grealish has struggled mightily this season to replicate the eye-catching performances he produced after breaking into the Villa side during last term’s run-in under the since-departed Tim Sherwood, making nine starts in 12 Premier League appearances, while scoring once.
As well as being plagued by form and fitness issues, the 20-year-old playmaker also hit the headlines off the pitch in November when he was pictured in the Daily Mail on a night out mere hours after the club’s 4-0 defeat at Everton.
The incident saw Garde demote the homegrown midfielder to the Under-21s for a fortnight and he has since made just one start over Villa’s past five Premier League games after making his first-team return as a late substitute in last month’s 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal.
As a result, recent reports have suggested that Grealish could be set for a short-term spell in the second tier to try to rediscover his form of last season, with Derby County, Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers all named as potential suitors [h/t Daily Mail].
However, while Garde admitted that his star prospect “could be better”, the Frenchman also stressed that he expects him to have a larger role in the side over the second half of the campaign.
Asked about the reports of a potential loan move for Grealish, Garde told reporters: “It’s not case about Jack. You saw that he started the last Premier League game against Sunderland.
“You can imagine that I wouldn’t start a player a week ago and then say ‘go on loan’.
“I’m relying on Jack, but his performance, like some of the other players, could be better.”
Last weekend’s 3-1 loss at Sunderland saw Grealish back in Villa’s starting XI for the first time since the Everton match, but the Solihull native flattered to deceive before going off for Adama Traore just before the hour.
Adama subsequently showcased his game-changing ability only five minutes later with a superb solo run and cross to set up Carles Gil’s wonder strike, but the former Barcelona winger had to be replaced himself two minutes from the end after taking a knock to his foot.
Tests have since revealed that the teenage wide man will be out for around 10 weeks with a broken metatarsal, making the need for Grealish to reproduce last season’s performances all the more vital.