Dean Smith press conference: Grealish and Heaton training and discusses biggest Newcastle threats
A whirlwind 13 months for Dean Smith.
Steve Bruce was sacked by Villa on 3 October 2018 after an abysmal start to last season.
Only three wins in 11 Championship games before he got the boot.
Dean Smith came in on 10 October 2018 and performed wonders, Aston Villa ending up promoted via the play-offs after finishing fifth, three points clear of seventh.
A run of 10 straight wins late in the season sealing their play-off spot, getting over the awful start to the season under Steve Bruce.
The Villa boss was backed in the summer in the transfer market to help deal with the step up.
With 11 points from nine matches, including seven points from their last three, Aston Villa looked on track for an improving season. However, having now lost their last three, Dean Smith is desperate to bounce back on Monday night. Especially with Man Utd, Chelsea and Leicester to play in the following three matches.
On the injury front, Dean Smith has confirmed that Jack Grealish has been training and is set to be available.
He also stated that Tom Heaton is back training and set to be available as well, following rumours Villa may have had to play their third coice keeper on Monday.
Dean Smith pre-Newcastle press conference:
‘Is Jack Grealish available?’
“Jack’s been training with us but I am a bit ill at ease to say he’s available because I’ve said it the last couple of weeks and he’s not played, such has been his calf injury.
“But he has trained with us for the last week so I have no doubts he will be there and in his happy place at Villa Park, playing in front of the fans.”
‘It’s a big game for the fans on Monday night, we wouldn’t normally say that for a match against Newcastle, how big is it for you?’
“I think every game we play at Villa Park is big in this league.
“I said at the start of the season that our home form is going to be the most important thing about this season.
“We’ve performed well at home so far and were unfortunate against Liverpool but our last performance away from home against Wolves and the players certainly got a reminder about that.
“Playing under the lights at Villa Park is always a great evening, especially with a full house and the fans fully behind us.”
‘The return of Steve Bruce gives it a little bit extra for the supporters?’
“Yeah, we’ve played Steve before when he was manager at Sheffield Wednesday last season and when I took over this job I said, I have got an awful lot of respect for Steve Bruce for what he has done in management and most importantly how he is as a man as well.”
‘What about the job he has done at Newcastle, he got quite a bit of stick when he started out and they are unbeaten in a couple of games now?’
“If you look at Newcastle at the start of the season there was a lot of questions about the whole football club and which way it was going but Steve has gone in and does what he does best.
“Got them organised and pace and power up front, they’re winning games now, won their last couple, beat Man Utd, so they are in good form.
“It is going to be a tough game but one we are looking forward to.”
‘Where do you see their main threats?’
“As I said, they have pace and power up front, very good counter-attacking team as West Ham found out, 3-0 up at West Ham at half-time is no mean feat.
“They have paid an awful lot of money for Joelinton up front and they have two quick wide players who look to get in behind you.”
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