Injuries no excuse for smarting Smith

Aston Villa
Dean Smith says Aston Villa showed their "togetherness" in getting the better of Everton on Friday and now wants them to kick on.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says his side's injuries were "no excuse" for the way they performed in Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Wolves.

Smith saw his team taste defeat for the third Premier League game in a row, with Trezeguet’s stoppage-time strike not enough to cancel out early efforts from Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez.

Villa were without Jack Grealish, Tom Heaton and Bjorn Engels heading into the match and their bad luck did not stop there.

Heaton’s replacement Jed Steer was forced off after just eight minutes with a calf injury and was followed down the Molineux tunnel by left-back Matt Targett just before the interval.

After an encouraging September and October, the Villans have now slipped to 17th in the table. While they have a three-point cushion on Watford and Southampton below them, Smith will be keen to ensure his side increases that gap, rather than see it closed.

Following promotion from the Championship through the play-offs, Villa were always likely to struggle for spells, especially having signed 12 new players. Having the likes of Heaton, Engels and captain Grealish sidelined will undoubtedly harm their survival cause and the international break may have come at just the right time.

Smith’s medical team now have a fortnight to work on their walking wounded before a crucial clash with Newcastle on November 25.

Although fixtures against Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester follow that game, the West Midlands outfit then have a massive run of matches, with outings against Sheffield United, Southampton, Norwich, Watford and Burnley taking them up to New Year’s Day.

Steer has now been ruled out for two months with his calf issue, while Heaton, Grealish and Engles will be hopeful of returning to face the Magpies.

“Injuries are no excuse because we’ve got a deep enough squad,” Smith said. “I’ve got no excuses about injuries.”