Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood has told Jack Grealish to keep learning from Joe Cole how to avoid the glare of the spotlight.
The 19-year-old has flourished under Sherwood and starred in their FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool last month.
The Irish Under-21 international is expected to start again against Everton at Villa Park tomorrow as he becomes a key figure in Villa’s relegation fight.
Team-mate Cole burst on to the scene at West Ham in 1999, earned 56 England caps and won the title three times with Chelsea.
A picture of Grealish inhaling nitrous oxide, taken a year ago, emerged last month and Sherwood wants Grealish to follow Cole’s example and stay away from the limelight.
“Joe never got affected by that. I didn’t read too much about Joe Cole being on the front pages,” he said.
“He’s just got to show (Jack) the lead hasn’t he — ‘just follow me, see what I did’.
“You go in that canteen most days and you’ll see Joe Cole talking to Jack Grealish.
“Joe Cole is a massive influence on him I think. They are very, very similar. If Jack can have a career like Joe Cole’s had then he wouldn’t have done too bad.”
Villa are two points above the Premier League relegation zone.
Goalkeeper Shay Given is pushing to start after Brad Guzan’s error gifted Sergio Aguero Manchester City’s opener last week and Sherwood admitted he has a decision to make.
He said: “It was an error from Brad and he recognises that.
I’ve always got decisions to make about the goalkeepers. There’s a lot of players competing for places. Everyone has got a right and an opportunity to start.”
Meanwhile Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes James McCarthy has all the ability to become a complete midfielder.
Recently Martinez has played the Ireland international slightly further forward, leaving Gareth Barry to man holding midfield duties, and that has resulted in two goals in his last six Premier League matches having managed one in 65 previous.
“James McCarthy is insurance for me,” Martinez said.
“In the last six or seven weeks we have allowed him to have a different role. He is getting a little bit higher up the pitch. He’s been very effective. It’s something quite new and he is enjoying it.
“James McCarthy is such a talented, young player that he could adapt to anything he wants to be.
It’s a great strength a player like him that can be so flexible but I wouldn’t say we’d expect more goals from him.”
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