England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate has praised the ‘enthusiasm’ of Aston Villa starlet Jack Grealish while with his squad.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder looked on course for a big season with Villa after forcing his way into the side under Tim Sherwood at the back end of last term.
However, after Grealish pledged his future to England over the Republic of Ireland in September, the wheels came off for him as Sherwood was sacked in October and he barely featured under Remi Garde’s leadership, mainly because of off-field issues.
Caretaker boss Eric Black also overlooked the youngster in the final few matches of the campaign as Villa were already doomed to relegation from the Premier League.
But Southgate decided to hand Grealish a call-up to his Under-21 squad for the Toulon Tournament in France this week and the former Villa captain claims his faith has been repaid.
“It’s been a tough season as a club for Aston Villa, which is painful for me to see,” he told avfc.co.uk.
“The thing that pleased me when I went to meet Jack was the smile, the enthusiasm to be involved, the desire to take up the opportunity. It’s a big commitment.”