Aston Villa boss Dean Smith spoke to the media on Friday and provided an update on the latest team news ahead of the clash with Fulham on Sunday.
With the international break now over, Premier League football resumes this weekend and Villa will be hoping to put a poor run of form behind them and finish the season strongly.
An important factor in that coming to fruition will be the fitness of captain Jack Grealish and his involvement in the remaining 10 games of the campaign and there was positive news this week as our skipper could be on the verge of making his comeback.
“Jack Grealish’s trained all week – he’s only had a few sessions though. He seems in good nick and he seems fit enough, so he’s certainly put himself up for selection which is good for everybody,” he told the press, as noted by the club’s official site.
“We’ve pretty much got a fully fit squad. Wesley is still playing catch-up in terms of his match fitness. He’s playing for the Under-23s today.
“Kortney Hause is back in full-time training. We had a practice game behind closed doors during the international break for all the players who hadn’t been getting minutes.
“We’re in a good place at the moment.”
With Fulham in the thick of a relegation battle, this weekend’s encounter will undoubtedly be a tough test for Villa, and Smith echoed that as he switched his thoughts to the game.
Villa won the reverse fixture at Craven Cottage earlier this season 3-0, but Smith expects a much more difficult assignment this time round given the improvements made by Scott Parker’s side.
“It will certainly be a very different game [to the reverse fixture]. Looking at the last game they played and when we played them earlier in the season, there are only five players who started that game against us,” he added.
“It’s going to be very different. I believe they’re a good team and a team that’s in-form. They’ve already made up a great amount of points on the teams above them when it looked they were getting cut adrift.
“That shows the job that Scott Parker’s done that they’re in touching distance of three of four other clubs now.”
Time will tell if Villa can get off to a positive restart after the international break, but it will certainly help our cause if Grealish is passed fit enough to be involved as we’ve undoubtedly missed our influential playmaker.
Villa currently sit in 10th place in the Premier League table, with a win potentially moving them up a spot in the standings having played a game less than most of the sides around us.