Aston Villa boss Remi Garde outlines how he thinks Jack Grealish can improve his game

The 20-year-old playmaker is in contention to feature on Sunday when Arsenal visit Villa Park after returning to the first-team fold following his latest off-field misdemeanour.

Aston Villa manager Remi Garde has challenged Jack Grealish to improve his tactical discipline on the pitch following the homegrown midfielder’s return to the first-team fold.

Grealish, 20, was demoted to the Under-21s two weeks ago for a breach of club discipline after he was pictured in the Daily Mail on a night out hours after Villa’s 4-0 defeat at Everton.

The promising playmaker had been permitted to stay behind on Merseyside rather than travel back with the squad, but after his previous off-field misdemeanours over the summer, another high-profile incident led new boss Garde to drop him to the development squad for an indefinite period.

He subsequently missed the 3-2 loss to Watford and 1-1 draw at Southampton, respectively, but returned to the senior setup earlier this week ahead of Arsenal’s visit after serving his punishment.

Sunday’s home clash with the Gunners could now see the Birmingham-born youngster back in the starting XI, with Garde telling reporters at his pre-match press conference: "Like all other players training with the first team after the U21 game on Monday, Jack is back and Jack is available for selection.

“I will still be watching very closely. He is a talented young player but only Jack has the answer to your question [if he has learned from his time away]. He is in contention to start like 18 players or 20."

2015-16 Premier League GoalsAssistsKey PassesPassing AccuracyTotal DribblesDribble AccuracyTouchesDispossessedAppearancesMins Played
Jack Grealish 1 0 10 85% 40 44% 399 9 9 687

Grealish played 90 minutes for the Under-21s in Monday night’s 2-1 win over Derby County and Garde was pleased with how the skilful No. 10 responded following his demotion.

However, after a difficult start to the 2015-16 season due to injuries and poor form, the former Arsenal midfielder wants to see his star prospect adopt a more disciplined approach on the pitch amid the club’s bid to climb off the bottom of the Premier League table.

"I have the feeling Jack needs to be more disciplined, not going everywhere on the pitch but to be more efficient," Garde added at his press conference. "This is the way I feel Jack can improve his game. Sometimes you run everywhere but are not efficient on the pitch."

Having burst onto the Premier League scene late last season, Grealish saw his start to the new campaign disrupted after he missed the whole of preseason due to a calf strain suffered during Villa's training camp in Portugal.

The former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, who switched allegiances to England in September, has since made 12 total appearances for the club, while recording one goal and an assist, but he has only been able to show brief flashes of his game-changing potential amid the club's worst-ever start to a top-flight term.

Currently sitting seven points from safety after 15 games, Villa desperately need him to recapture the form of last season’s run-in, and the weekend’s meeting with Arsenal would be a great place to start getting things back on track.

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