Aston Villa boss Dean Smith spoke to the media on Friday ahead of our clash with Man Utd at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon.
Confidence and morale will be high after our win at Everton last time out, and it’s hoped that we can put a positive run of results together to end the Premier League campaign and finish as high as possible.
Meanwhile, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side booked their spot in the Europa League final in midweek, and so it remains to be seen if he makes changes to his side to manage their fixture schedule.
Team news, Grealish update
From a Villa perspective though, Smith confirmed that captain Jack Grealish will miss out again due to his troublesome shin injury, but there was a positive update on our influential playmaker.
“He’s out on the grass loading the injury, so he’s on his way back,” Smith said, as noted by the club’s official site. “This game is too soon for him. He starts training with the group tomorrow, so it’s too soon to put him in against Manchester United.
“As I’ve said many times, we want him back as soon as possible, but we’ve got to do it right.”
On team news, Smith also added: “Morgan Sanson is still not available, he’ll be training with us next week.”
Man Utd assessment
As noted above, United will be going for European silverware before the season is over, while they will hope to also secure second place in the Premier League table in what could yet be considered a successful season for them under Solskjaer.
With the quality at his disposal in the Utd squad, Smith knows that Villa face a tough test, but he’s still confident and also discussed what the aim is in these final five games of the campaign.
“They’ve got a lot of games to play, they’ve got a cup final to look forward to and they’ll be looking to cement their second place spot. They’ve done very well this season and we know we’re coming up against a very good team,” he noted. “They were the ones who were pushing Manchester City until about eight to ten games ago when Manchester City started pulling away.
“They’ve had a very good season and it’s something that’s been building. They lost away from home last night, so hopefully they can lose that first away game in the Premier League on Sunday.
“They’ve [his team] got a target. We’ve got some really good games coming up – Manchester United, then we’ve got the return against Everton, Chelsea last game, Tottenham and Crystal Palace.
“The lads know where they want to finish and how well they want to do it. Our last two performances have been really good, and we want to finish the way we started the season.
“We know going into these games that it’s going to be tough, but we usually finish the season well and our performances are going in the right direction.”
Villa currently sit in 10th place in the table, eight points adrift of Tottenham in sixth spot while we have a game in hand. In turn, there could yet be a late push for Europa League football next season, especially considering we still have to play Spurs and Everton who are directly above us in that battle.
Time will tell if we can pick up the results needed for that, but it’s a major boost to hear that Grealish will be back training this week and in turn could be involved in the coming weeks to give Smith and the rest of the squad a huge lift.