Aston Villa boss Dean Smith spoke to the media on Friday ahead of our encounter with Everton and delivered an injury update on Jack Grealish.
Villa have endured a frustrating few months with a dip in form and the level of our performances, and that in turn has forced us to adjust our expectations and target.
Having narrowly avoided relegation last year in our first season back in the Premier League, a top-half finish this season would certainly represent progress. That’s a sentiment shared by Smith, who is targeting a top-10 spot in the remaining games and revealed that he has been left both delighted and frustrated by the campaign as a whole thus far.
Smith on season so far, target set
“I think there’s a bit of both (delight and frustration),” he said, as per the club’s official site. “Delighted with how we’ve played at times this season, the progression we’re making as a football club.
“But also frustration that when a few of our key players come out, we haven’t managed to sustain the results.
“Defensively I think we’ve been great all season, I just feel we’ve dropped off offensively and that’s something we obviously need to improve upon.
“I think, for me, it’s obviously top-10. It’s something we were aiming to do anyway, we weren’t satisfied with finishing 17th last season.
“There had to be progress shown this season and there has been.
“After a really good first half of the season, our results haven’t been anywhere near as consistent and we want to finish the season well, and we usually do.”
It’s going to be difficult for us given the fixture schedule ahead, and it starts with a trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton this weekend.
Smith on Everton
Smith acknowledges that it won’t be easy, but remains confident in our ability to get a result.
“It’s going to be a tough game, I think they’ve got a very good squad, a squad that we’re trying to build towards as well,” he added.
“But we’ve already proven this season that, on our day, we can beat anybody and we’ll be looking to try and do that.”
Smith on Grealish, injury news
Meanwhile, the Villa boss also provided an update on Grealish as he continues to be sidelined by a shin injury which has forced him to miss the last nine league games.
Morgan Sanson and Trezeguet are both also ruled out currently, while there is some positive news as Matty Cash will return after sitting out of the West Brom draw due to suspension.
The news on Grealish is positive to an extent too, but our skipper won’t return in time to face Everton and so time will tell when he’ll be in a position to make his much anticipated comeback.
“Jack’s scan came back positive so we’ve gradually started to load him this week, he won’t be available this week.
“But the loading process has started, which we’re all a little bit tentative, obviously, because of what happened last time. So there’s a softly, softly approach with him.
“Morgan Sanson is still out as well with a knee injury, I don’t expect that to be too long.
“And, obviously, Trezeguet has got the long-term injury.”