The Sun revealed a picture of the 19-year-old inhaling the legal high from around six months ago, with Grealish appearing in a selfie with a friend while inhaling what is believed to be nitrous oxide – otherwise known as laughing gas or ‘hippy crack’.
Grealish starred at the weekend as Aston Villa upset the odds to knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup and reach the final, where they will face holders Arsenal. The teenager was rightly praised by manager Tim Sherwood, who has overseen a turnaround in fortunes at Villa Park since taking the manager’s job earlier this year.
However, Sherwood will undoubtedly face questions over the picture emerging of Grealish, having become the latest English youngster to be caught up in the controversy.
Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling was pictured earlier this month inhaling nitrous oxide while he also appeared in a picture with team-mate Jordon Ibe while smoking a shisha pipe. The Liverpool pair were formally warned by manager Brendan Rodgers, but the club took no disciplinary action as inhaling nitrous oxide in not illegal.
West Brom’s Saido Berahino was also involved in a similar incident last year, when the England Under-21 reportedly inhaled ‘hippy crack’ before driving 120 miles to London to continue a night out.
Nitrous oxide starves the brain of oxygen in order to give the inhaler a legal high. While it is not illegal, it has been recorded as the cause of 17 deaths between 2006 and 2012, although it is not considered dangerous enough to outlaw.
It is frowned upon by football clubs though, and the likelihood is that the club will remind Grealish of his responsibilities in private, much like the action taken with Sterling and Berahino.
Grealish’s future looks secure at Villa with reports suggesting he will pen a long-term contract before the end of the season. His international future remains in the balance though, as he is eligible to represent both England and the Republic of Ireland, having featured for the Irish throughout his youth career.
His decision to withdraw from the Under-21 squad to focus on Villa’s attempts to survive relegation though has sparked fears that he could be eyeing a switch of allegiance to represent England at senior level, with The Independent reporting that the English Football Association are ready to step up efforts in order to tie him down to the Three Lions.
Aston Villa were unreachable for comment when contacted by The Independent.
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