Jack Grealish is ready to take his game to the next level, according to Aston Villa boss Dean Smith.
The skipper has scored five goals in seven games with England manager Gareth Southgate saying he is getting closer to the levels of Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.
Southgate gave Grealish his full debut against Wales last month but he was an unused substituted against Belgium and Denmark.
The 25-year-old is back in the squad for games against Ireland, Belgium and Iceland this month and, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Arsenal, Smith believes he can still improve.
He said: “Obviously we’ve come across Sterling a number of times and everyone can see what a top player he is. He is scoring 20 goals each season.
“Jack knew when I first came in he had to improve his goalscoring and his assist record. He’s doing that now, he’s playing higher up.
“Now we want him higher up the pitch in the Premier League and he’s shown what he is capable of doing.
“I didn’t hear Gareth’s interview but I can only talk about working with Jack and he’s a player who wants to keep pushing himself and getting better. It is great to have a local lad who supports the club.”
Villa beat Arsenal 1-0 in July – a result which ultimately secured survival last season – having lost 3-2 at the Emirates.
They lead twice but conceded two goals in the final nine minutes to lose and Smith feels they have got the measure of Arsenal.
He said: “Yeah, you get over it. It is a game we felt we should have won but didn’t. Life goes on,” said the manager, who will be without the injured Bertrand Traore.
“Our last couple of outings against Arsenal have been really good. We had a good result at home and then played them in pre-season. We certainly know a lot about each other.”