Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has vowed to take action after news of Jack Grealish’s injury was leaked before Sunday’s game against Leicester.
Villa skipper Grealish was a notable absentee from the starting line-up at Villa Park, though rumours he was set to miss the game were swirling online earlier in the weekend.
Leicester went on to win 2-1, with Smith confirming after the game that he will “reprimand” anyone who is found to have leaked information from the training ground.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Smith said: “I was made aware on social media there were rumours he was not going to play. If that is coming out of our training ground I will find out where it is coming from and reprimand whoever it is coming from.
“It certainly does [help the opposition]. It is something I would not be happy with.
“It is something I wouldn’t be happy with and we will certainly get to the bottom of it.”
Smith confirmed Grealish was sidelined with a leg injury, though he would not be drawn on a timescale for his recovery despite rumours he could be out for a month.
“We will assess it as we go. It is certainly not a recurrence of an old injury and certainly not long term,” he told BBC Sport.
“We will just assess it, I am an eternal optimist and I’ll hope he is back for Leeds next week but I’ll leave it to the medical staff.”
When pushed on how long Grealish would be out for, Smith added “We don’t believe it’s a long-term injury. We’re just going to assess him as he goes.
“I’ve no idea [how long he’ll be out for]. I’m hopeful. I’m always an optimist.”
Losing Grealish to injury for even a few weeks is a huge blow to Villa given the influence he has on the side.
The 25-year-old had started Villa’s previous 48 Premier League games, the last fixture he missed coming in November 2019.
No Villa player has been involved in more goals this season than the midfielder, who has scored seven and assisted 10 more.
Since Smith took charge in October 2018 Villa have averaged 1.5 points per game when Grealish has featured compared with 0.9 points per game without him. They have also lost all three Premier League matches without England international since the start of last season.