Jack Grealish is a serious doubt for Aston Villa’s opening match of the Championship campaign after suffering a rib injury in Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Watford.

The winger received medical attention on the pitch during the tribute match for the late Graham Taylor, before being replaced by Leandro Bacuna in the 25th minute of the 0-0 draw.

After the game, manager Steve Bruce spoke to the media about the 21-year-old’s knock and confirmed that he had gone straight to hospital for checks.

“He’s gone to hospital. He’s not great,” said the former Sunderland boss, as reported by the club’s official website.

“He’s very, very sore. We will know more in the next 24 hours.

“It’s in and around his ribcage. Has he damaged his ribs? We don’t know yet.”

The news will come as a blow to Bruce as he prepares his side for an assault on promotion from the second tier this term.

Grealish had started the game against the Hornets brightly and would have hoped to force his way into the first XI for next week’s clash against recently relegated Hull City.

The youngster came in for criticism from fans on social media during 2016-17 as the team struggled to a 13th-placed finish in the Championship.

However, statistically he was far from the least productive player in the team and scored five goals whilst providing two assists and winning three penalties.

Bruce knows that promotion is the only aim for the club this season and he will be expecting his team to provide a faster start than they did in the last campaign.

Under Roberto Di Matteo, Villa won just once in their opening 11 league matches before the Italian was sacked in October 2016.

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