Jack Grealish has spent months out of the Aston Villa side this season and it was no surprise that his return coincided with the fun of form that propelled Dean Smith into the play-offs.
And as they now sit on the verge of the Premier League – with just the Championship play-off final to come next Monday – Grealish has now explained how close he came to being ruled out for the season.
According to the Sunday People, page 51, 19/05, Grealish said: “Dean’s first game against Swansea, the morning after, I woke up and had this pain. I carried on playing but wasn’t really training through November and December.
“When we played the league game at West Brom, the pain was horrific. It was a fracture, effecting my ankle and the bottom of my left foot. I went for the scan the next morning and the physio said ‘you’ve fractured your leg and you’re not going to be able to play until March.
“He warned me, ‘if someone boots you, you could break your leg badly. You’ve already fractured the bone.”
A broken leg would surely have ended Grealish’s season, not giving him the chance to inspire his boyhood side to within 90 minutes of a return to the big time.
It sounds as if Grealish was lucky to have not got that kick that turned the fracture into a break while he was playing through the pain and that has undoubtedly been to the benefit of Dean Smith.