Why Smith should snub tried and tested and give Villa youth a chance

Aston Villa were dealt another injury blow this week as Trezeguet is out for the rest of the season, and so Dean Smith now finds himself with a selection headache.

As confirmed by the club’s official site, the Egyptian winger suffered knee ligament damage in the defeat to Liverpool and now requires surgery.

READ MORE: Five key talking points as Aston Villa miss opportunity in Liverpool defeat

With skipper Jack Grealish also out injured currently and having missed the last eight games with a return seemingly unlikely this month, Smith must find alternative solutions in the final third for the upcoming games.

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Since the start of February, scoring goals has become a real problem for Villa. We’ve managed just seven in our last 11 games, with three of those coming in the win over Fulham.

Getting Grealish back as soon as possible is naturally the obvious solution given the creative quality that he brings to the side, but Smith needs to find different answers in the more immediate future.

The Villa boss has often turned to his more experienced options in that run, with the likes of Anwar El Ghazi and Ross Barkley getting opportunities.

Barkley has managed just four goals and one assist in 22 appearances so far this season, with his last involvement in a goal coming against Southampton in the form of his winner back on January 30.

As for El Ghazi, the 25-year-old has seven goals and no assists in 23 outings, with just one of those goals coming in his last 12 appearances.

The pair, and many others for that matter, have struggled to spark us into life in the final third, with shining light Ollie Watkins often finding himself isolated and starved of service, but impressively still finding the back of the net.

The decision to deploy John McGinn in a more advanced role in paying dividends, as seen with his assist to Watkins in the defeat at Anfield on Saturday.

With Bertrand Traore also struggling to offer consistency though, Smith surely now has to freshen things up and give us a different look, with the youth players in and around the first-team now needing an opportunity to showcase their talent.

Jacob Ramsey has featured 18 times for the senior side this season, and although he’s still missing the end product, this feels like a perfect time to give him a proper run in the side to find his feet and show us just how good he is, and can be.

Elsewhere, Keinan Davis showed what he can do off the bench against Fulham, and perhaps a tweak to the system and a more physical presence up front to take some of the pressure off Watkins could be another option to give us fresh impetus.

Looking further down the line, Louie Barry made a big impression in his appearance against Liverpool in the FA Cup, while there are others in the U23s around him hopefully knocking on the door soon too.

We’ve seen what the likes of El Ghazi, Barkley and Traore can do, and frankly, it hasn’t been much since January. Barkley hasn’t done enough to warrant a permanent move to Villa, and there is an argument that Smith needs to add more quality in attack this summer to replace El Ghazi and Traore in the starting XI.

With eight games remaining and a small cushion over the sides below us coupled with an outside chance of Europe still dangling in front us, why not release some of the pressure, overcome the flatness of our recent performances and give our young guns more of a run out.

Add Grealish to the mix in May for the last handful of games, perhaps there is a strong finish to the season still in us.