Jack Grealish was unable to inspire his beloved Aston Villa to Carabao Cup success at Wembley on Sunday.
The 24-year-old local boy would have dreamed of climbing the steps to lift the cup, but, despite a spirited performance, Villa went down 2-1 to Manchester City.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at Grealish’s performance on a disappointing day for the England hopeful.
Grealish leads by example and he looked to get on the ball whenever possible, even if he was unable to unpick the City defence. His connection to the club was clear given his reaction at full-time, as he slumped to the pitch almost in tears. He will now want to make sure he can help keep Dean Smith’s side in the Premier League to soften the blow of a cup final defeat.
Operating deeper in midfield, Grealish was unable to get on the ball in areas of the pitch where he could hurt City. One over-hit free-kick and a couple of other chances to provide for his side came to little in a tireless but underwhelming display.
He had no opportunities to add to his nine goals across all competitions so far this season, with Villa unable to enjoy the sort of possession that would open up chances in and around the area for Grealish to pounce on.
Nine months after helping inspire his boyhood club to victory in the Championship play-off final, Grealish endured a desperately disappointing return to Wembley. Unable to influence the game as he has been able to on so many occasions this season, Villa’s creator-in-chief struggled to make his presence felt against City’s star-studded midfield.