By Graham Hill
VILLA boss Dean Smith insists Jack Grealish will not have to wait long for his call up to the full England squad.
And he says once he has one cap, he will go on to get plenty more.
England boss – and former Villa captain – Gareth Southgate says he has not picked Grealish yet as most of his experience has come in the Championship.
And current Villa captain Grealish has been overlooked once more for Southgate’s party for the Nations Cup next month.
Grealish has made it clear he wants to be part of the England set-up and play in the Premier League.
That means Villa having to beat Derby at Wembley in the Championship Play-off Final if Grealish is to stay at the club.
Southgate has watched Grealish at Villa Park this season and told BBC Radio WM’s Football Phone-In on Thursday that the skipper’s wait for a Three Lions spot is on the horizon.
Smith said: “I don’t think that day is too far away at all.
“I didn’t realise until I came to this club – and worked with him closely – how good he is.
‘It’s not just the way he plays, it’s his temperament, his attitude, his dedication to his game as well.
“And he’s a physical specimen, he’s worked very hard in the gym, he’s a fit guy and stands a chance of playing any number of games for England.”
Smith’s decision to make Grealish captain in March when he came back from injury has also been seen as a tuning point in Villa’s season.
It was against Derby when Grealish took the skipper’s armband and scored one of the goals of the season in a 4-0 win – on a day when Lampard’s men simply did not turn up.
Smith added: “I knew how much it would mean to him, and being with him during the last four or five months, I knew he had the temperament and that’d be fine.
“I knew he’s relish the chance, he’s matured throughout the time I’ve been here. People get the wrong impression from those early days.
“People forget that two months before that FA Cup Final in 2015, nobody knew him, all of a sudden he was thrust into the spotlight at 18 years old. It’s an awful lot to take in at that age.”