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Smith Presser Wrap: Tom Carroll is gone, Henri is back, and the race is on.

Dean Smith speaks ahead of Sheffield Wednesday match

Aston Villa Unveil New Management Team
Smile Dean!

The run in is on. Seven to go for Villa — and about the same for most of the other contenders for playoff spots.

For more about the run-in: xV: Analyzing each Championship play-off contender’s run-in

Tom Carroll is heading back to Wales as his very brief time with Aston Villa was cut short today because the midfielder is going to have hip surgery. Dean Smith in his usual pre-match press conference addressed the loss, “He’s had a reoccurrence of the hip injury. He’s broken down a few times since coming here... He’s in too much pain and had to see a specialist. The advice was to get an operation.”

It was an odd loan move from the outset — but the depth in the middle of the part is helped by the fact that Henri Lansbury is back in full training. Smith told the press Lansbury was left out last weekend by choice — and not by injury, “Tyrone Mings picked up a knock to the knee on Friday and I needed both Axel and Mile Jedinak on the bench. At the moment, I’m having problems picking my team and my bench. It’s important to have that strength in depth.”

First off — The Mings we all saw against Blackburn was him with a knee injury? The man has a future ahead of him if he can play regularly (hopefully in the Claret and Blue.) The choice of the bench makes sense with the news of the knock.

Smith hopes to see the three other defenders out with injuries — Chester, Elphick, Hutton — back before the end of the season. While all three would have to work to get back into the squad (with the possible exception of Chester), it will be great to have more options in case of injury/sickness/drop in form.

Speaking of form — this weekend’s battle with Sheffield Wednesday is a showcase of two teams in great form. After praising Wendesday for their run — Smith said something that I’ve been waiting to hear from a Villa manager for years, “As it is, we’ve won the last five and people see this as a potential six-pointer. For ourselves, it’s just about thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition – and how we can hurt them.” (my emphasis)

YES! A manager who is willing to adapt for each game is a manager I can get behind and — possibly more importantly — a manager who is likely to have plan B & C in the long run. The counter point is obvious — the struggle that the team had without Jack Grealish. It is a fair point and I totally concede it while noting Dean Smith was new to the team and probably only had plan A at that point. Hopefully — the longer Smith spends with this team — the more comfortable he will get with dealing with injuries. He certainly has done the job mix and matching the back line to stabilize the defense.

“Either our winning run or their unbeaten run will come to an end this weekend. Let’s hope it’s theirs.”

Agreed. And up the Villa!