By Darren Bent

27th Nov, 2020 | 7:00am

'We can't crucify him' - Exclusive: Bent reacts to latest Grealish-Villa reveal

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has been credited with coaxing the best out of Jack Grealish by Darren Bent.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Villa striker has been hugely impressed by Smith’s “hands-on approach” to dealing with the club’s talisman.

As quoted by the Birmingham Mail, Grealish confessed he had had to do a lot of growing up over the years but that he felt he was now “old enough and wise enough” to thrive under the pressure for both club and country.

The playmaker is now making a mark for country as well as club, as he develops into one of the most exciting players in England.

Bent told Football Insider: “Listen, know he’s had one or two issues off the pitch but then again, young player with that much hype hasn’t had their off-field situations, they’ve all had it at some stage.

“To be fair to him he has matured up, he’d be the first to say that he’s made mistakes but we can’t crucify him for it, it’s just unfortunate, it’s just one of things, it’s just one of them things you hope he learns from and I think he has done.

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“He’s playing in a team that really suits him, he’s got good players around him at Aston Villa, he stepped up onto the international stage, and he’s playing as well as anybody.

“You have to say well played to him, well played to Dean Smith because you can see that Dean Smith’s had kind of a hands-on approach with him, and I know he’s got good family around him as well.” 

Grealish told the Birmingham Mail: Years ago I didn’t ever think it was pressure on the pitch, I just thought off the pitch that I was ‘Jack from Solihull’. I thought I could go out and do what I want, you know.

“I feel that I have grown up over the years, and hopefully I can keep doing that. I am old enough and wise enough to control myself, I thrive on the pressure on the pitch.”

In other Aston Villa news: ‘Dean Smith will be really upset’ – Alan Hutton drops training ground claim.