The 20-year-old midfielder helped set up the opening goal and completed the scoring in Saturday's 3-0 victory over Rotherham United at Villa Park.
Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo has backed Jack Grealish to become a key part of the club’s promotion push this season after the 20-year-old midfielder produced a superb display in Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Rotherham United.
Di Matteo was speaking to Villa’s official website after the match against the Millers, in which Grealish helped create Rudy Gestede’s 21st-minute opener before going on to score his first goal at Villa Park six minutes before stoppage-time to earn a standing ovation upon being substituted shortly after.
The homegrown playmaker is facing a make-or-break season in B6 after enduring a largely disastrous 2015-16 season, but the way in which he toyed with the opposition defence with his trickery, movement and vision in the final third certainly went a long way towards reminding everyone of his promise.
Di Matteo previously opted to start him on the bench for the opening day loss at Sheffield Wednesday, but the Italian was quick to stress after his first win in charge just how highly he thinks of his star prospect.
“I said from the beginning that Jack was a very important player for us,” the ex-Chelsea midfielder told avfc.co.uk. “I think we all know he has talent. That’s not enough.
“So he knows he needs to play with the team, be a piece in the team and functional for the team.
“He rounded off a good performance today with the goal. It’s very good for him.”
Grealish was tipped to be one of the Premier League's breakout stars last season after bursting onto the scene during the previous campaign’s run-in, but a series of injuries and off-field issues ending up limiting him to just 16 top-flight appearances.
The highly-rated youngster was sent to train with Villa’s Under-21s for a fortnight by former boss Remi Garde in November after he was pictured in a Manchester nightclub just hours after a 4-0 loss at Everton, while he went on to start just two more matches over the rest of the campaign following his return to the first-team setup.
His performances on the rare occasions he was called into action also left much to be desired, with the club losing every league game he played as they finish bottom of the table with only 17 points and three wins.
Nevertheless, after earning his first England Under-21 call-up in May for the Toulon Tournament following his successful switch from the Republic of Ireland, the creative midfielder seemed to get a new lease of life.
He netted two goals in five games as Gareth Southgate’s side went on to lift the trophy for the first time since 1994 and, having since reportedly been working diligently on his fitness over the following months, looks to be primed and ready to show why he deserves to be named among the country’s top talents.