By Phil Jennings
VILLA skipper Jack Grealish believes Dean Smith’s side are ready to return to the Premier League and said: ‘I feel like this is going to be our year’.
Grealish will lead Villa into the play-offs next week admitting he could leave if they do not get promoted.
But the 23-year-old is so confident after Villa’s 12-match unbeaten that he feels they can go all the way now.
Villa face Norwich on Sunday in their final Championship match of the season.
And then they go into a Villa Park semi-final first leg on Saturday – where West Brom are their likely opponents.
Grealish said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday: “All I’m thinking about is getting promoted with Villa. We’ve got the perfect manager and the perfect team.
“We’ve got more of a chance than we had last year. This year, I feel something different here. Every game we go in to, I feel like we’re going to win it. I feel like this is going to be our year.
“We’ve come alive at the right time.
“We haven’t lost since West Brom on February 16 so it’d probably be nice to get West Brom in the play-off semi-final, knowing we haven’t been beaten since then.
“We’ll take any game that comes and go into it with high confidence.
“The lads are just flying at the moment. So much confidence. I’ve never been in a team, even when I was playing with Fabien Delph and Christian Benteke, where I just feel we’re never going to get beaten.
“I think all the boys are all the same: we don’t care who we play.
“The manager has brought players in who seem to play without fear. Nothing bothers them. We’re all young, we’re all desperate to try and improve and try and impress and we just go out and play football and nothing stands in our way.”lGreakish says he wants to play for England and in the Premier League.
And if Villa do not go up then his international ambitions will stay on hold with Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate reluctant to pick players from the second tier.
Grealish added: “I’m 23 now and I’m not getting any younger.
“I want to challenge myself, I’m desperate to play in the Premier League and I want to play for England.
“So for me personally, I think this is the year we’ve got to get promoted really.”
Grealish, 23, has taken Southgate’s comment on board.
He added: ’”I can half understand that.
“He can’t really judge me against someone else in my position if they’re playing against the Manchester Uniteds every week and I’m playing in the Championship.”
It means if Villa want to keep Grealish then they have to go up to stand a chance – and even then Tottenham are likely to renew their interest with a bid of more than £30million for the midfielder who has inspired this promotion bid.