Aston Villa star Jack Grealish could return from injury ahead of schedule, according to Sky Sports.

The 23-year-old was sidelined by a shin injury in early December, during the club’s 2-2 draw with Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion.

However, Villa’s prized possession has benefited from rehabilitation in Dubai and could return to action before the end of February.

Villains manager Dean Smith is sure to be delighted, with his side just four points adrift of the play-offs. The need for Grealish in the side is greater this season as rumours have suggested that the club fear losing him if promotion to the Premier League is not achieved.

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The winger has remained with his boyhood club since penning a professional deal in 2012, despite interest from top flight giants Tottenham Hotspur. In November, he insisted that he has put speculation behind him and that his sights were set on helping Villa escape the Championship:

“It took some time to get over that (summer transfer saga), but this is my club, this is what I’ve dreamed of. Ever since I was a kid, all I wanted to do was play for Aston Villa.

“All we need to do is just keep on performing, keep on winning. All I want to be is back in the Premier League with Villa.”

Nottingham Forest’s Joe Lolley has been identified as a replacement for Grealish if he is lured away from Villa Park, but Smith will be hoping that a bid for Forest’s playmaker is not required.

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Villa will face their next test on Friday, when they host fellow promotion-chasers Sheffield United.