By Phil Jennings
JACK Grealish admits his leg could have shattered at any moment while he was playing through the pain barrier earlier this season.
Grealish was sidelined for a crucial three months of Villa’s season after coming off injured in the Championship game at West Brom in December.
But it was a shin problem that might have had horrific consequences if Grealish carried on playing.
During those three months, Villa’s hopes of automatic promotion disappeared in a poor run of results.
But Grealish – with his newly given captain’s armband – had an immediate impact when he returned in March.
He provided the inspiration for Villa’s incredible run to the play-offs.
But the medics had to make sure that Grealish did not return too early.
Grealish told the Sunday People: “I did it in the game against Swansea in Dean Smith’s first game as manager. The morning afterwards, I woke up and had this pain.
“I carried on playing, but I wasn’t really training throughout the whole of November and December.
“When we played the league match at The Hawthorns, the pain in my shin was horrific.
“It turned out to be a fracture. It was affecting my ankle and the bottom of my left foot.
“I said before the game: ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to play’
“The doc gave me an injection, it settled me down and I played until 10 minutes from time.
“I thought: ‘I can’t carry on doing this.’ I went for the scan the next morning. I was on my way to London for our Christmas party when the doc rang and he sounded low.
“I asked what was up and he replied: ‘It’s not good news. You’ve fractured your leg and you’re not going to be able to play until March.’
“I said: ‘Nah, I can play now, but it’s so painful – just give me a month and I’ll be sorted.’
“He said: ‘You can’t. If someone boots you, you’ve already fractured the bone. You could break your leg badly.’ He said it would be in March and he was right, almost to the week.”