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Steven Gerrard: Jack Grealish deserves an Aston Villa salute before battle begins

Boss Steven Gerrard says Jack Grealish deserves a warm welcome when he returns to Villa Park as a Manchester City player tonight.

Manchester City's Jack Grealish
Manchester City's Jack Grealish

Grealish, meanwhile, has confirmed he hopes he will one day rejoin his boyhood club.

The 26-year-old became England’s first £100million footballer when he opted to leave Villa to join City in the summer.

Tonight he returns to face the club he joined when he was just six-years-old for the first time.

And while Gerrard says Grealish will be ‘the enemy’ during the game, he the hopes he gets a good reception before and after.

“I hope he gets a warm and positive reaction,” Gerrard said. “I think the supporters are very grateful for what Jack gave to this club.

“They see him as one of their own, coming through the academy.

“He performed extremely well, helped them get back to the top league by being an influential figure who contributed extremely well.

“I don’t see anything other than a positive reaction, but once the game starts, he’s the enemy and we want to compete against him.

“We want to make it as difficult as we can for him and his team.

“He deserves a warm reaction and so do his family.”

Grealish is, of course, close pals with many of the Villa squad.

But Gerrard didn’t feel it was necessary to stop his players from talking to the England international ahead of tonight’s match.

“There’s natural boundaries, people have commonsense,” the boss added.

“There are strong relationships here with Jack – we very much respect that.

“But I think, from Jack’s side and ours, we need to be professional and get on with the game.

“Jack’s a competitor, he will be focused on the job in hand.”

Speaking ahead of the game, Grealish confirmed he wants to rejoin Villa one day.

“It’s a club so close to my heart, I definitely hope to go back,” he said.

“That’s always been in my mind. Ashley Young has done it and I want to do the same, 100 per cent.”

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