Noel Whelan has ripped into Aston Villa ace Jack Grealish for regularly going to ground for against Leeds United on Friday night.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, claims the 25-year-old “could be an exceptional player” if he tried to stay on his feet rather than looking for fouls from the officials.

A Patrick Bamford hat-trick condemned Grealish and his teammates to their first Premier League loss of the season at Villa Park.

Grealish was a bright spark for Dean Smith’s men but also saw a number of shouts for penalties and free-kicks fall on deaf ears after going to ground.

Whelan insists he loves to watch the new England international strut his stuff but admits that he was left tearing his hair out with what he saw on Friday.

Whelan told Football Insider: “He’s a great player but he’s let himself down. He’s too interested in falling down than being strong.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“He’s a strong lad, he’s got great physique, good strength on the ball and he’s a better player if he stays on his feet and shows people he’s not this diving player.

“Referees will see it, players will know what he’s doing, he didn’t get the fouls he would usually get last night because I think referees are knowing now you don’t need to go down there, you don’t need to go down to ground.

“He could be an exceptional player if he just did things a little bit better and was a little bit more honest. That’s the problem with me, I think he’s a great player, he really is. He’s got every attribute you want from a midfield player but I just don’t like that side to his game. 

“If he just stayed on his feet he’d be a much better player for it. I just don’t see the need. I love watching him. Go and showcase your feet by staying on your feet because nobody wants to see that.” 

In other Aston Villa news, Whelan has savaged a “scared” senior player who “couldn’t cope” with Leeds stars.