Foxes boss Rodgers claims Villa star Jack is the Greal deal
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is out to avoid more semi-final heartbreak at the hands of Jack Grealish.
Aston Villa skipper Grealish inspired his side to a shock 2-1 FA Cup last-four win over Rodgers’ Liverpool in 2015.
It was the last time the Foxes manager has suffered a domestic cup defeat and Leicester host Villa in a Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
Rodgers is unbeaten in 30 cup games – having won the Scottish Cup twice and claimed three Scottish League Cups with Celtic – but knows the threat Grealish poses to his record.
“I came away that day (2015) thinking, ‘what a player that boy is’. You are playing at Wembley with about 90,000 and he really stood out,” said Rodgers.
“He was drifting in and he showed he had the personality to play on the big stage. I always knew him as a talent but I thought in that game he had the ability to play on the big stage and he was outstanding.
“Everything that has been said about him. He is a fantastic talent and people compare him to James Maddison but he is totally different.
“They both have individual qualities but they are different players. Great skills, great ability.
“Look at James, he is playing as a central midfielder. He not only attacks and scores goals but he also presses the game. Young Jack has a different role in the Villa team but he is a big talent.”
After Villa’s relegation in 2016, Grealish struggled for consistency until this season, where he has scored eight goals in 21 outings.
As skipper he helped Villa to promotion back to the Premier League last term and Rodgers has been a fan ever since Grealish masterminded his downfall at Wembley.
He said: “To be fair to Jack, you have seen the maturity in him and it was difficult when he broke through because he was playing for his hometown club, the club he loves, so there was real emotion around it.
“He has broken in, lots of people are hanging around him and everything else but after they got relegated he took on a greater responsibility, showed a leadership role with the club and has helped bring them back up.
“With Dean (Smith) who has the connection to Villa, he knows what it means to work for the club.
“He has matured a lot since the time he was a talent and looks like he has fully developed physically and is a wonderful player.”