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Dean Smith making no excuses as Aston Villa return to action at Manchester City

By January 19, 2021No Comments

Dean Smith admits Aston Villa were taken aback by the speed of the coronavirus outbreak at the club.

Villa return to Premier League action at Manchester City on Wednesday for the first time since New Year’s Day.

Nine players and five staff tested positive for Covid-19 and the club’s Bodymoor Heath training ground was closed.

“Experience has taught us that it can hit you very quickly, but I’m very thankful that our doctor was quick to deal with it,” Smith was quoted as saying on the official Villa website.

“I’m not going to make any excuses; the players are ready to play. We are looking forward to this game and we don’t feel that we are handicapped.

“We’ll have had a three-day build-up for the Manchester City game. The first day was almost like the kids’ first day back in the playground and they were full of energy and enthusiasm.

“It was good to see them back on the grass again. They looked really bright, so I’m hopeful for a bright return.

“I’m not going to make any excuses for the issues. My players are ready to play against Manchester City.”

Villa fielded a side of youth-team players in the FA Cup defeat to Liverpool on January 8 before having Premier League games against Tottenham and Everton postponed.

Smith’s side now find themselves at least two games behind the rest of the Premier League and four fixtures behind some teams.

“The players that I’ve got here have got that hunger and desire to play football games,” Smith said.

“I’m sure the majority of them would admit that six games in 18 days is better than 12 days on the training ground.

“We’ll be looking forward to all the games, that’s for sure.”

Smith has confirmed that Conor Hourihane is set to leave the club on loan this month.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder has found game time difficult to come by this season and made only three starts.

Championship trio Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Swansea are all keen on the 29-year-old.

“Personally I would like Conor to stay,” Smith said. “He’s been to see me a few times and intimated to me that he wants to go out and play games, which is one of the reasons why I love Conor so much.

“He’s never happy when he’s not playing games and he’s intimated to me that he wants to go out and play games.

“We’ll look at the possibility but it’s got to be right for Conor and the football club as well.

“It would be a loan to the end of the season to get him back playing and get him back to us.”