Premier League

Aston Villa-Crystal Palace Preview

Jack Grealish returned for Aston Villa after a 12-game absence, and Dean Smith has backed his talisman to prove his quality in the final three games of the season to ensure his place in England's Euro 2020 squad.

Grealish made his comeback from injury on Thursday, coming on as a substitute in a goalless draw with Everton at Villa Park.

Villa had managed just three wins in his absence, cutting short any European ambitions.

The playmaker may well be in line for a start against Crystal Palace on Sunday, and Smith is sure Grealish will be able to cement his position in Gareth Southgate's selection.

"First and foremost, he's got to be chosen to go to the Euros. I'm sure he will be, such has been his quality this season. I've no doubt that in the final three games he'll continue to show that," he said.

"Obviously I'm not picking the team for England but if he gets game time, he will certainly show what he's about.

"I trust my medical staff and the handover policies we'll have with England. He'll be managed correctly, no doubts about that. We look forward to having a fit Jack Grealish back for the Euros should he get selected."

Palace boss Roy Hodgson, meanwhile, refused to reveal his plans concerning life after his stint in charge of the Eagles.

Hodgson is out of contract at the end of the season and an announcement on his future is expected in the next week.

"When the time comes to speak openly about the subject I will," the 73-year-old said when asked if he planned to retire.

"But today isn't the day because we're not on a great run of form and we've got an opportunity to take points on Sunday. I want full focus on that."

Crystal Palace - Christian Benteke

Benteke was a star at Villa, but failed to live up to the same heights at Liverpool and has had struggles at Palace. He is yet to score against Villa in the Premier League in four games, attempting 10 shots without scoring. He has only had more shots against Manchester City (22), Watford (18) and Fulham (14) in the Premier League without scoring than versus his former side Villa.

Aston Villa - Jack Grealish

Villa have missed their talisman greatly, and Grealish will no doubt be raring to make up for lost time whether he gets a go from the off, or has to settle for a place on the bench.

- Hodgson has won more Premier League matches against Aston Villa than any other opponent (eight), winning six of his eight home Premier League encounters with the Villans (D1 L1).

- Villa have won eight away Premier League matches this season, as many as they managed in their previous three seasons in the top-flight. They last won more in a season back in 2009-10 under Martin O'Neill (nine).

- Palace have scored just two goals in their last six home Premier League matches (W1 D2 L3), with the Eagles scoring the fewest home goals in the division since the start of last season among the 17 teams to feature in both seasons (31).

- Palace have only conceded five goals in their last 15 home league games against Aston Villa and never more than once in a game in this run. Indeed, the last time the Villans scored more than once in an away league game against the Eagles was in December 1968, a 2-4 defeat in the second tier.

- Villa have won two of their four Premier League games in London this season (D1 L1), winning 3-0 away at both Fulham and Arsenal. They last won more top-flight games in the capital in a single campaign back in 2008-09 (three).

Updated May 14, 2021

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