Pep Guardiola fires 'trouble' message to Jack Grealish ahead of Aston Villa return

Pep Guardiola says Jack Grealish will be “in trouble” if it takes him a season to recapture his Aston Villa form at Manchester City.

Former Villa captain Grealish has suffered a mixed start to his career at the Etihad following his £100m switch to the Premier League champions in the summer.

And ahead of his return to Villa Park tomorrow night, City boss Guardiola has challenged the playmaker to deliver his quality on a consistent basis this season.

Grealish is facing a race against time to be fit to face his old club, but his form at City has been scrutinised in the build-up to the Premier League clash.

When asked whether City might need to wait until next season to see Grealish at his best, Guardiola said: “I don’t think so. If that is the case he will be in trouble. We have six, seven months ahead of us, all the nice things.

“I don’t think the best Jack Grealish we see next season, I want to see it this season.”

Grealish has scored twice since moving to City for a fee that was a British transfer record, but Guardiola says he still needs time.

“He started perfectly,” Guardiola said.

“It’s easy because he knows many English players and the other guys are nice people. Not a problem, he plays good, he needs to finish to settle and needs time. If you analyse games, he doesn’t play bad. The quality he has is difficult to play bad.

“The way we played and expectations. It’s different to what he lives in Birmingham, he did incredibly well there, his commitment to the club. Going to the second division to not leave and to stay and get promoted, then stay in the first season and what Villa did last season.

“Now this break after coming back from England injured, hopefully, he comes back and step by step finds his best form.”

All eyes are on whether Grealish will be passed fit for City’s trip to B6, but it is unlikely he will start if he is available.

Guardiola added: “Jack yesterday was the first minutes with the team, today will be tested to see if he can travel to Birmingham.

“Phil [Foden] and Jack are still in the same situation, maybe tomorrow they can play but not a lot of minutes. I don’t know. We are in a difficult position because a lot of players play a lot of minutes. We are going to see after they train today and the rest we have just 14, 15, players.”

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